Veterans And Standouts Make Up Masakada

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Harmon, Guam – It’s not unusual to see familiar faces from the IIAAG Girls High School Soccer League play for Guam’s national team in international competition.

Out of the Masakåda’s 18-player roster, seven played in the 2012 high school season: high school MVP Paige Surber, Jena Cruz, Tatyana Ungacta, Arisa Recella, Andrea Odell, Phoebe Minato and Chyna Ramirez.

“To play on the national team, it’s really an honor and a privilege for me,” Surber said. “I know I have to up my game big time going from the high school league to the women’s national team.

“There are so many good players with more playing experience, but we all need to get to the same level of play. I also have to act a little older than my age,” said the 17-year-old who will be starting her senior year at Southern High School.

Surber recently started in the Masakåda’s opener against CNMI in the Women’s East Asian Cup preliminary competition. Surber scored three of Guam’s six goals against the island’s northern neighbors.

“It’s always hard to be one of the youngest players on the national team,” said Masakåda’s Kristin Thompson, who earned her spot on the women’s national team in 2003 out of high school. “You really have to work even harder to prove not only that you deserve to be on the team, but that you deserve playing time as well.

“There were really strong leaders when I first got on the women’s team like Cheri Stewart, Kyung Shipman, Blanda Camacho and the list goes on. They all inspired me. They took me under their wing and encouraged me to keep playing.”

[From left to right (kneeling): Paige Surber (9), Tanya Blas-Cruz (2), Tatyana Ungacta (3), Jena Cruz (1), Kristin Thompson (5), Arisa Recella (10). From left to right (standing): Heather Thompson (13), Andrea Odell (11), Simie Willter (8), Anjelica Perez (4), and Meagan Speck (14).]

Thompson was one of the youngest players on Guam’s team that earned a silver medal at the 2003 South Pacific Games in Suva, Fiji. Thompson was part of Guam’s starting eleven against home team Fiji, Tonga and Kiribati. Thompson also scored the eventual game-winning goal against Fiji in the 1-0 contest.

The tables have turned and now Thompson is one of the more experienced members of the team. The average age of the Masakåda is just above 19 years old. Three of the team members are only 16 years old and over half are under 21 years old.

Just like Thompson had her role models on Guam’s women’s national team when she first earned her spot, Masakåda team captains Anjelica Perez and Simie Willter inspire Surber, she said.

The Masakåda have one more game during the EAFF tournament’s preliminary competition. Guam will play Hong Kong at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Leo Palace Resort Guam main field. With a Masakåda win Saturday, the team will move on to the tournament’s second round in China in October. Second-round opponents include China PR, Chinese Taipei and the recently added Matildas, Australia’s women’s national football team.

Admission to the EAFF tournament games is free. Bleachers with canopies over them have been provided for game spectators.

Information from a press release.