After much hullabaloo about what a superstar laden squad Captain Dale “Dread Pirate” Roberts put together before the season, the less talked about Wild Bill’s squad pulled out an upset victory on a damp day at the CPA Airport Field.
Jason Schroeder raised eyebrows on the sidelines and drew cheers from his teammates when he got Wild Bill’s on the board early in the first half with a shot that got past Mafi the Magnificent and set the stage for a wild 80 minutes of action on the soggy pitch.
Dig the facial tattoos
Some of the CNMI’s best men and women worked together for the first time under the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association’s watch and their teamwork was nothing short of inspirational to the crowd of their dedicated fans.
Players on both sides of the midfield stripe struggled to find solid footing throughout the match but the conditions helped to level the field between the league’s top talents and future stars. The weather could only hold Thailand’s Jetsada Phonsujit for so long as the yellow-footed phenom lofted the ball over keeper Glen Smith to even the game with five minutes remaining in the half.
The teams huddled together and discussed strategy during halftime and returned to the pitch with the same energy that they brought in the first 40 minutes. Both Wild Bill’s and the Pirates had several opportunities to find the back of the net but defense and sturdy work between the pipes proved to be the story of the day.
Smith twice robbed Phonsujit on breakaway opportunities when he ran out to cut down the angle, but his defense saved his Canadian bacon by never giving up on the play and sending the resulting rebounds out of bounds allowing Wild Bill’s to regroup for the next Black Attack.
Dale: "Does this hat make me look fat?"
While Schroeder and Phonsujit represented the league’s experienced players well, newcomer Butch Sublemente ran circles around the Pirates in his soccer debut with blazing speed akin to an Olympic sprinter.
It took a few whistles from the head referee to engrain the rules regarding offside violations into his head, but Sublemente proved a quick study and used his speed to give Wild Bill’s a 2-1 advantage midway through the second half—one that they enjoyed until the final whistle.