STETHS on course to defend title

Defending champions St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) marched into their seventh consecutive ISSA/FLOW Ben Francis knockout final with a 4-3 sudden death penalty win over Clarendon College at the Manchester High School yesterday.

The dramatic and exciting game ended 3-3 after normal and extra time in which both teams at varying points, had victory in their grasp, before the wretched penalty shootout.

Former National Under-17 player Demar James opened the scoring for STETHS in the ninth minute with an exquisite lob from 25 metres.

Glendo Gopaul then doubled their advantage in the 51st minute converting from the penalty spot after defender Sanjay Williams misjudged a high ball and inadvertently handled the ball. At that point, it looked like game set and over.

But Clarendon College had other ideas and rallied strongly forcing the game into extra time. Captain Greggton Charlton, celebrating his 19th birthday, pulled one back in the 60th minute, with just one of the four minutes added on left, Shemar Hunter’s long cross somehow caught goalkeeper Kenroy Wallace off his line and sailed into the back of the net in the 93rd minute sending the match into extra time.

Clarendon College, who had the ascendency in the final 10 minutes of normal time, picked up where they left off and were rewarded when Charlton fired home in the 97th minute after goalkeeper Wallace failed to hold onto a low shot from substitute Kevin Ankle.

Clarendon College were on the cusp of a great come-from-behind victory.

But STETHS weren’t ready to relinquish their title just yet and Alex Thompson latched onto a ball played over the top of the defence, and with the ball bouncing in his favour, fired home from just inside the 18-yard box with basically the last kick of the game sending it into penalty kicks.

STETHS had the chance to win the game in normal time and Clarendon College had their chance in extra time and the Paul ‘Tegat’ Davis-coached team had their second bite of the cherry in the penalty shootout to win it all.

With STETHS missing twice, captain Charlton had the opportunity to win the game for his school, but saw his tame effort blocked by the goalkeeper sending the match into sudden death.

Shemar Hunter then missed for Clarendon College setting the stage for STETHS’ captain Chris-Andrew Dixon to slot home for a famous victory.

Scoring for STETHS were Nickalaus Gayle, Clifton Woodbine, Glendo Gopaul and Chris-Andrew Dixon, while Tahjae Green and Alex Thompson missed the third and fourth kicks.

Tremaine Williams, Kevin Ankle with a cheeky effort and Kimani McIntyre netted for Clarendon College as Shande James, Charlton and Hunter all missed.

Winning coach Omar Wedderburn said he expected the competitive nature of the game.

“Clarendon might have a little fancier playing towards the game; we have a more direct play. But the end product is two teams that like to score,” said Wedderburn.

“All we stressed on was belief and even in extra time we didn’t give any tactical instruction; we just reminded them that they have to believe that they can win and the guys demonstrated what a true champion should play like,” he added.

For Clarendon College coach Davis, after coming so close to winning in extra time, it was a bitter blow.

“We started out tentatively and made silly mistakes, but coming from 2-0 down to 3-2 we should have stopped a little and play the ball around, but the guys were still going,” said Davis.

STETHS will now meet either Cornwall College or Lennon High in the final when both teams meet in the other semi-final at STETHS Sports Complex today starting at 2:30 pm.

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