Sat | Dec 14, 2019

Composure and resilience - St Catherine, Excelsior throw down big performances to gain Walker Cup final spots

Published:Friday | November 22, 2019 | 12:41 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer
Excelsior High’s Sheldon Butler (right) evades a tackle from Camperdown High’s Rasheed Grant during their ISSA Walker Cup semi-final match at the Stadium East field on yesterday.
Excelsior High’s Sheldon Butler (right) evades a tackle from Camperdown High’s Rasheed Grant during their ISSA Walker Cup semi-final match at the Stadium East field on yesterday.

St Catherine High School and Excelsior High will face each other in the ISSA Walker Cup Final after nail-biting semi-final victories against St George’s College and Camperdown High School, respectively, at the Stadium East field yesterday.

In the opening game, St Catherine got by nine-time champions St George’s College 5-4 on penalties after it finished 1-1 in regulation time. Chantomoi Taylor gave George’s the lead in the 40th minute, but Jevaughn Cole got the equaliser for Camperdown in the 63rd minute with a brilliant one-time effort. St Catherine had a chance to take the lead minutes later, but substitute Tyjie Campbell could not get on the end of Assanie Brown’s cross.

Joel Palmer was the hero for the Anthony Patrick-coached St Catherine as he calmly slotted home the decisive kick in the fifth round of the shoot-out, giving his school an opportunity to capture their first major schoolboy football title in their history. St George’s TahJ Hylton saw his effort in the third round hit the crossbar.

Patrick said that he was pleased with the effort of his team for putting their all into the Walker Cup competition after being eliminated in the Manning Cup second round at the hands of Wolmer’s Boys.

AIMING FOR THE SILVERWARE

“This is something that we have spoken about at length,” he said after the game. “Once we lost the game against Wolmer’s, [I told them] let’s see if we can win some silverware this season.”

St George’s College ended their schoolboy football campaign losing their second consecutive penalty shoot-out of the season. The Neville Bell-coached team were eliminated by Cornwall College in the ISSA Champions Cup on penalties on November 9, and he said that it was a cruel way to end the season.

“I thought we played well,” Bell said. “I don’t think anyone likes to see a penalty shoot-out. We have gone 19 games this year and we only lost on in the run of play [against St Andrew Technical]. I thought we did enough to win it, but unfortunately we didn’t.”

Excelsior High outlasted Camperdown High 4-3 in a pulsating game that saw four lead changes. The first half saw three goals scored in the space of five minutes, starting with Excelsior’s opener in the 15th minute through Rojaughn Joseph. Camperdown captain Giovanni Laing equalised from the penalty spot in the 17th minute, but just three minutes later, Junior Parker restored the lead for Excelsior. Camperdown restored parity again in the 37th minute through Shawn Daley.

Camperdown took the lead for the first time in the game through Tivelle Edwards in the 63rd minute, but Excelsior’s Jhevan Smith levelled the game once more seven minutes later. It seemed that the game would follow its predecessor into penalties, but substitute Daniel Clarke got the winner for Excelsior five minutes from the end as his effort soared over the head of Camperdown goalkeeper DeShawn White.

Excelsior Technical Director Leebert Hailman praised his team’s ability to adapt to different situations and the attitude displayed after the break en route to playing for their eighth Walker Cup title.

“Dropping three of our starters because of various reasons, and to come here and do so well, it shows how well these boys adapt to the situation,” he said.

“[At halftime, I told them] ‘Keep your composure, play what we know. We can’t change at this time of the year. Play like how we have been playing from the start of the competition till now and we will be successful.’”

Camperdown assistant coach Donovan Lofters lamented the defensive errors that lead to the goals being conceded.

“I’m very disappointed, especially with my leaders at the back,” he said. “We gave up some soft goals. We haven’t given up so many goals in 10 years. Now we chose the time where we need to be the tightest to be sloppy around the back, giving up four goals.”

The final will be played next Friday at the National Stadium.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com