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Bacolod City, PhilippinesThursday, June 14, 2007
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WNC conquers
Barotac tourney

Falling behind late for the first time in the tournament, West Negros College almost threw away what had been a brilliant performance in the Congressman Ferjenel Beron Inter-Collegiate Invitational Football Tournament.

Midfielder Robert Caņedo just did not want that to happen. Caņedo struck twice in the space of five minutes as West Negros fought back to claim a 2-1 victory over Iloilo School of Fisheries and secure the crown before a stunned crowd at the Barotac Nuevo pitch.

WNC coach Norman Fegidero had said that they would attack early but the forays failed to materialize and the opening half ended scoreless. Mark Anthony Becite made the breakthrough for Iloilo, scoring from the right flank just inside the box in the 58th minute. By then, it looked as though WNC's run of three victories en route to the finals would ground to a halt.

But 13 minutes later, WNC drew level as Caņedo shredded the defense for a breakaway goal that put the finishing touches on a flowing passing move at midfield.

The game-winner came in the 76th minute, this time, Caņedo was at the right place at the right time to latch on Ryan Lerio's botched effort from close range.

Another WNC chance went begging late in the match as West Negros rookie and Barotac native Jovin Bedic pushed his angled effort wide after skillfully evading three defenders.

Caņedo's performance earned him the Most Valuable Player award, while his WNC teammates Irl Tomodos and Carlo Tacusalme were awarded best goalkeeper and midfielder, respectively.

WNC also won the Fair Play award. ISCOF's Tommy Iscoltero took the best defender trophy, while Foundation University player A. Elmar was awarded best striker with five goals, tournament organizer Duffy Botavaro said.

It was West Negros' third crown in Barotac, after 2000 and 2001. Violence and controversy marred the Wesnecans' three-peat bid in 2002 when WNC and Barotac players engaged in a scuffle that left ex-WNC player Joshua Fegidero with a broken nose.

WNC skipped the tournament from 2003 to 2006, before conquering the event held as part of the celebration of the town fiesta of Barotac, considered as the football capital of the country.

But Fegidero, who has a way of downplaying defeats, sold the WNC XI's dramatic victory short.

"I didn't like their performance. The players were complacent and we're not committed," Fegidero, whose players are seeking a sixth straight NOPSSCEA crown this year, said.

"They were throwing away what we had worked for throughout the tournament. It was a good thing we recovered," he added.

Two other Bacolod squads saw action in the tournament with University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos placing fourth and St. La Salle eliminated in the group phase.

Except for standout defender Joel Ballo-allo, who has used up all his playing years, WNC will parade the same squad when it defends its NOPSSCEA crown. *CPT

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