Verdes FC wins 2-1, but Belmopan gets the title on cumulative goals for the finals. Here's the video of the game with awards presentation at the end....

Belmopan Bandits SC, champions; Verdes FC, sub-champions of PLB 2018-2019 Opening Season

Some fans considered it a foregone conclusion before tonight’s championship final at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan, where defending champions Belmopan Bandits SC sported a 4-2 1st leg victory in the finals over Verdes FC at the Norman Broaster Stadium last Sunday. But the Bandits, usually unbeatable at home, have not been dominant of late, struggling to dispose of Police United FC in the semifinals (1-1 and 1-0 in injury time). Both of those Bandits goals had come from veteran striker/midfielder Jeromy “Jarro” James, and, as it turned out tonight, it was a Jarro goal late in the game that clinched the championship for the Bandits, after Verdes had come out strong and surprised all doubters by jumping to a 2-nil first half lead that nullified the plus-2 goal difference enjoyed by the Bandits going into tonight’s match.

After bombing San Pedro Pirates, 4-1, in their first semifinal on Saturday, December 8, in San Pedro, Verdes had seemed poised to take the championship this season; but they were pretty banged up after that game, with 4 of their regulars confined to the bench for the return match in Cayo, which the Pirates won, 2-1. The fast-track semifinals schedule with a mid-week return match did not allow much time for healing, and midfielders Denmark Casey and Roberto Da Silva, defender Jahron Myvett and all-arounder Jarret Davis were all sidelined in the semifinal 2nd leg in Cayo on Wednesday, December 12. Verdes therefore limped into the finals against the Bandits on the strength of their aggregate 5-3 series win over San Pedro; and they were in anything but championship form for the finals 1st leg at the Norman Broaster last Sunday, December 16, where the Bandits dropped them 4-2.

But tonight, after two consecutive short-staffed losses on the field at home, the impossible suddenly seemed possible for the Green Machine on the road in the championship finals 2nd leg at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium. With a week’s rest and “no tomorrow” for this season, coach Marvin Ottley gave 3 of the 4 injured first-stringers a start, and, despite the continued absence of Best Midfielder Denmark Casey, whose knee injury would take more time, the Green Machine looked like it was rolling on all cylinders, to the delight of their fans, and the dismay of the Bandits supporters. With Roberto Da Silva and Jarret Davis starting in midfield, and Jahron Myvett manning the left defence, Verdes jumped to a 2-nil first half lead, with a goal each from strikers Desmond Wade and Krisean Lopez, whose hard right foot shot into the goal area rebounded off the body of Bandits’ defender Trevor “Burger” Lennon and into the net. Surprisingly, the aggregate tally was now tied at 4-4, and the championship up for grabs, as the half ended 2-nil in favor of Verdes.

It was a keenly contested match, with squandered opportunities on both sides. Despite the excellent performance of visiting officials from Guatemala, the game got more physical in second half, and both Jahron Myvett (at the 57th minute) and Jarret Davis (at the 74th) had to leave the game on stretcher, although Jarret did return to action some 3 minutes later. What proved the championship winner for the Bandits came at the 80th minute from Jarro James with an assist from Georgie Welcome, who remains the most formidable offensive architect in the league. The game was then 2-1 in favour of Verdes, but despite their best efforts at getting another goal for the aggregate equalizer, the Verdes strikers were frustrated by the outstanding performance of Shane Orio in goal for the Bandits.

Belmopan Bandits – goalkeeper #1 Shane Orio, #3 Norman Anderson (#24 Humberto Requena at 67′); #13 Dalton Eiley; #24 Trevor “Burger” Lennon; #7 Ian “Yellow” Gaynair; #10 Inri Gonzaga; #8 Kevin Vicente; #18 Morvin Budna (#16 Luis “Baaka” Torres at 36′); #15 Jeromy “Jarro” James; #12 Trimayne “Peppa” Harris; #9 Georgie Welcome; head coach – Kent Gabourel; asst. coach – Clifford Usher.

Verdes FC – goalkeeper #1 Zeron Sagastume; #11 Jahron Myvett (#7 Nahjib Guerra at 60′); #6 Elroy Smith; #5 Elroy “Bibbs” Kuylen; #17 Colin Westby (#8 Ricardo “Cheety” Jimenez at 87′); #10 Jarret Davis; #2 San Mendez; #15 Roberto Da Silva; #33 Edwin Villedabernal; #13 Desmond Wade (#12 Darwin Bermudez at 63′); #29 Krisean Lopez; head coach – Marvin Ottley; asst. coach – Peter Jones.

Referee – Mario Escobar (Guatemala); assistants Pablo Ramirez (Guatemala) and Humberto Noel Panjoj (Guatemala); 4th official – Juan Alas (Belize).

(Note: In keeping with recent CONCACAF policy, all national championship matches are officiated by officials from another country. Thus, the two finals matches had Guatemalan officials; only the 4th official was Belizean.) After the game, individual season and playoff awards, as well as individual medals and team trophies were presented by League president Ian Haylock, after a brief address by FFB Senior Vice-President, Marlon Kuylen, standing in for President, Sergio Chuc, who is out of the country.

Individual awards were: Best Goalkeeper – Shane Orio (Belmopan Bandits SC); Golden Boot/ Most Goals – Georgie Welcome (Belmopan Bandits SC); Best Midfielder – Kevin Vicente (Belmopan Bandits SC); Best Defender – Dalton Eiley (Belmopan Bandits SC); Best Young Player – Krisean Lopez (Verdes FC); Best Coach – Kent Gabourel (Belmopan Bandits SC); Best Manager – Emeliano Rivero (San Pedro Pirates FC); and Fair Play Award – Verdes FC.

In addition to big team trophies, champions Belmopan Bandits SC received a check for $10,000.00; and sub-champions Verdes FC got a check for $5,000.00.