Sport

'Catherine' joy

History-chasing St Catherine to face Excelsior for Walker Cup crown

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, November 22, 2019

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History-chasing St Catherine High will meet former champions Excelsior High in the final of the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Walker Cup knockout final after registering semi-final victories at Stadium East yesterday.

In the curtain-raiser of the double-header, St Catherine came from behind to earn a 1-1 stalemate with St George's College in regulation time, and later held their composure well to triumph 5-4 on penalties.

The prolific Chantomoi Taylor logged his 21st goal of the season across all competitions that gave St George's College (STGC) the lead in the 39th minute, but Javaughn Cole pulled St Catherine level in the 64th minute to send the game into penalties.

The feature contest between two-time champions Camperdown and seven-time winners Excelsior served up more excitement, with the latter coming out 4-3 victors in the seven-goal thriller.

Rojaughn Joseph (15th minute), Junior Parker (20th), Jhevan Smith (70th) and substitute Daniel Clarke (85th) found the goals for Leebert Halliman's Excelsior side, while Jiovanni Laing (17th), Shawn Daley (37th), Rasheed Grant (65th) were the scorers for the Christopher Bender-conditioned Camperdown.

Yesterday's opening contest was expected to be a shoo-in for nine-time champions St George's College.

But the Neville 'Bertis' Bell-coached team, missing a few players, was made to work hard from the start by Anthony Patrick's St Catherine side which are on the hunt for their first title.

Decked in their away burgundy coloured kit with light blue strips on the side and back, the North Street-based team broke the deadlock when Taylor charged down the middle to fire home from close range.

St Catherine came close with an immediate response a minute later but custodian Orville Smikle did well to parry Assanie Brown's header as the score remained unchanged at the break.

The tempo of the game remained the same on the resumption, before St Catherine found the equaliser four minutes past the hour mark when Cole fired home after STGC failed to clear their lines.

Both teams remained evenly poised from there and enjoyed some good passage of plays in patches, but were unable to find the go-ahead goal and as such it took the dreaded penalties to separate them.

Isaac Dunkley, Jevaughn Brown, Ian Cupee, Rhajneil Brown and Joel Palmer were all perfect from the 12-yard spot for St St Catherine, while Nathaniel Campbell, Jaheim Brown, Shemar Boothe and Rojay Nelson converted for STGC. Tahj Hylton was the unfortunate kicker for the losing side as his effort rocketed into the crossbar.

The second contest was expected to be competitive and it did not disappoint, as both teams measured their attacking prowess from start to finish.

In the early exchanges, Excelsior fired the first warning shot when a well-taken free kick by Noel Rattray had to be steered over the crossbar by custodian De Shawn White.

Camperdown responded soon after through Laing who rose above defenders to a Kenley Deacon cross to force a reflex save from Pepetto Smith in goal for Excelsior.

The Mountain View Avenue-based Excelsior grabbed the ascendancy at the quarter-hour mark when Joseph arrived to finish from inside the six-yard box.

Camperdown hit back two minutes later when Laing stepped up to convert from the penalty spot after Shaquiel Bradford was brought down inside the area.

However, Excelsior, who last won this title in 2008, were back in the ascendancy three minutes later when Parker turned his marker well to drive home a right-footed effort from the top of the 18-yard box.

The tit for tat continued seven minutes past the half-hour mark as Camperdown again pulled level through Daley who broke down the right channel before guiding a shot past the outstretched right leg of Smith.

With that, the pulsating first half came to an end with the teams locked at 2-2.

The moderate turnout inside the venue were barely allowed to catch their breaths, as both teams again came out firing on the resumption with Camperdown looking more dangerous.

They inevitably found the go-ahead goal when a well-worked build-up ended with Clarke flashing in a cross to Deacon, who released a left-footed pass across the face of goal for Grant to tap in.

With their last title hold dating back to 1988, Camperdown seemed poised to continue their journey to break that drought as they applied sustained pressure with Excelsior's defenders at their mercy.

But complacency set in and Laing toying with possession at the back was dispossessed by Joseph, who he later had to put back.

Excelsior duly obliged and found the equaliser from the resulting set play that was expertly driven home along the grass from 20 yards by Smith.

And just when it seemed headed to another penalty shoot-out, Clarke unleashed a wicked right-footed effort from a distance that sailed over the head of White and nestled in the top right hand corner of the net, to send Excelsior supporters into frenzy five minutes from time.


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