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May 31, 2004

Griga clinches playoff berth

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Good evening, I?m James Adderley, this is Sports Monday. The struggle to make the four-team cut in the Regent?s Insurance Cup playoffs intensified into week thirteen, especially with one more round of play remaining at this juncture. In week thirteen, the San Pedro Seahawks took their post season hopes south to Dangriga where they face Griga United, a team that needed only a draw to cement its grip on a playoff berth.

The Seahawks have come south for the W and look to grab a three minute lead off this corner kick that bends dangerously into the cross bar.

Griga United answers immediately on this individual effort from Harrison Roaches, but he is a little late on the trigger.

Folks, we?re some twenty minutes in when Elroy Kuylen comes up with the spot kick of the season which he brilliantly bends into the net to give the Griga boys a 1-zip lead.

In the meantime, can we suggest that goalkeeper William Johnson had no intention of playing the ball here and Bent Burgess has earned a penalty kick the hard way–unfortunately, referee Ruperto disagrees.

Griga continues to dominate and on this set piece, they send for Kareem Haylock. And while Haylock comes close, he fails to get the required result.

At the other end Julio Valle of national fame makes one of his famous runs into the danger zone, but this time he simply misfires.

Even so, we must say we just can?t believe Bent Burgess raises this strike from point blank range, but seeing is believing and at the half it?s still a 1-zip Griga lead.

Intermission seems to bring a decline in the level of play, in the level of focus, in the level of intensity because neither teams seems to be able to mount a cohesive effort as demonstrated by this sequence here.

Still, Griga looks to double the lead off this Harrison Roaches low cruise missile, but Johnson handles the challenge well.

Meanwhile, Bent Burgess displays his offensive skills with this long range launch that forces a save from the San Pedro keeper.

This set piece by San Pedro shows potential, but Jarbi Alvarez roughs up the keeper to nullify the action.

In the waning moments of this ballgame Julio Valle fires in heavy traffic in search of the equalizer, but the long whistle brings a 1-nil W for Griga United who have zoomed to the head of the class with twenty-one points.

In other results from around the league, the Calcutta Bulls destroyed the playoff hopes of the defending champion Kulture Yabra with a chocking 2-1 W yesterday that sees the host team pick up its first season win. What a way to get it.

The other match up saw Sagitun and Builder?s Hardware Bandits of Belmopan settle for a scoreless stalemate Saturday night inside the Michael Ashcroft Stadium. Thus, the standings looks like this with one week to go. Griga United leads with twenty-one points, Juventus has twenty, and both teams are already qualified. Sagitun has eighteen, and the Bandits sixteen. These teams complete the top four. San Pedro and Yabra both show fifteen points apiece, while the Calcutta Bulls have amassed all of four points with one match to go. San Pedro and the Bandits are fighting for the final playoff berth, and by next weekend the picture should become crystal clear.

Turning to the national football team scene, the Football Federation of Belize has released a list of twenty-four players who are currently in training at the complex in Belmopan to represent this nation against Canada in World Cup qualifying play on June thirteenth and June sixteenth. These players are: Rodwell Leslie, Jarbi Alvarez, Vallan Symns, Charles Slusher, Jerome Serano, Robert Muschamp, Jori Suazo, Peter Mariano, Elroy Smith, Mark Leslie, Harrison Roaches, Dennis Serano, Eden Rawley, Amin Gonzalez, Jorge Dorado, Victor Morales, Denmark Casey, Deon Flowers, Olliver Hendricks, Deon Frazer, Francis Arzu, Shane Orio, Jamie Brooks, and Albert Thurton. Six players from this twenty-four will be cut before the final eighteen emerges that will make the national team. We are gonna keep you posted. In the meantime, we just want you to know that Canada lost a 1-nil ballgame against Wales in an international World Cup friendly yesterday at Wales, so they are preparing for us. But you know, win, lose, or draw I?m a Belizean and I know you are too.

From the football field to the diamond pitch, where we want to join our colleague Patrick Jones who has the latest on Belizean softball.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

When Las Flores took on Georgeville J.E.C. in B Division play on Saturday, it probably was a foregone conclusion that the babies of the bunch would end up on the short end of the scoreboard. And while that prognostication was confirmed out at the Denbigh Fuller Stadium, the energy and vitality of one player in her approach to the game of softball should be a model for other players.

On this pitch, in the top of the first inning, the Las Flores catcher mishandles the ball, but the pitcher Guadalupe Chicas is prompt at the plate to take the throw and tags out Olivette Tucker on an ill advised attempt to score.

After the play, Chicas, sprints back to the mound, and is ready to face the next batter. The hitter puts the bat on the ball, and on a play that the third baseman probably should have handled, Chicas takes charge and her cross-diamond throw is just in time to retire the J.E.C. base runner.

Maybe some of Chicas? energy is starting to rub off on her team-mates because on ball four, number twelve does not walk, but runs to first base.

Now take a look at Guadalupe Chicas? at bat in the top of the second inning. On the very first pitch, the stocky team captain takes a healthy swing, shattering the bat and sending the barrel flying into the stands.

Chicas, left with half of the bat in her hand, throws down the now useless piece of metal as if it had bitten her.

After she gets some new metal, Chicas grounds to short, but hustles to first and sacrifices her body to try and get on base. When the dust settled, the umpire saw differently.

Later in the game, we see a play that should have been made easily. But when Faye Usher drives the ball through the legs of the shortstop, she is off to the races. By the time the ball gets back to the infield, she had circled the diamond for an inside the park homerun.

And the Georgeville coach Eric Smith likes what he sees.

Gretta Jones, a veteran of many years is the next batter. And she promptly deposits a Chicas pitch way over the head of the left fielder for a double. On a misplay, she entertains the crowd as she advances to third base.

On this overrun by the Las Flores centre fielder, Olivette Tucker makes up for an earlier base running mistake by taking four and driving in three runs, which virtually puts the game out of the reach of Las Flores. After the game, Chicas told Sports Monday that as captain of her team, she leads by example.

Guadalupe Chicas, Captain, Las Flores

?Because I want to win. I have always played like this and I expect everybody in the team to play the same way I play. I just tell them we have to play with all our spirits so that we can win, but it seems like they just don?t listen?

The final score in the game was 24-4, with Nadine Coye picking up the victory and Guadalupe Chicas taking the loss. But on Sunday, Las Flores rebounded by beating Team C.T.C. Esperanza 16-14 behind the pitching of Leandra Guy. Patrick Jones for Sports Monday.

Hey thanks Patrick.

In closing folks, we just want to say kudos to my daughter Jada on her graduation from high school yesterday. That’s it for now. We invite you back same time, same place next week. Jah over all, I’m James Adderley.

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