Excelsior, Hydel book berths in Walker Cup final
It went all the way to a penalty shoot-out, but Excelsior's coach, Daniel Riley, said that he was always confident of victory in their ISSA/Digicel Walker Cup semi-finals at the Spanish Town Prison Oval, yesterday.
The Mountain View Avenue-based school rallied after missing an early kick in the shoot-out against St Catherine High to advance to the finals 6-5 on penalties. The eight-time winners will go up against first-time finalists Hydel High, who turned back Cumberland 3-0 in the opening game.
In the feature match, both teams battled hard and when normal time failed to separate them, the dreaded penalty kicks were required. St Catherine converted their first three kicks, and Excelsior's Jhevan Smith missed his team's second. Marchovich Brown's fourth penalty for St Catherine was saved, and when the shoot-out went to sudden death, Christopher Allwood fired over the bar to give Excelsior victory.
"The guys fought and got to penalties, and we knew once we got to penalties, we would win the game. We knew our goalkeeper had a save in him," Riley said.
"We brought on our penalty kickers, so we were prepared for the penalties, and all those who came on played their part," he stated.
He added that they also got the opponents they had wished for in the final.
"It's one that we wanted. We wanted to really play Hydel, and it will be a good showdown," he promised.
St Catherine's coach, Anthony Patrick, believes that they are jinxed by the Spanish Town Prison Oval turf, their home ground, after throwing away a 3-1 lead in a first leg round-of-16 Manning Cup game against Charlie Smith and now this.
"The players have been complaining that they don't like to play at Prison Oval. Last year, in the Manning Cup, we won the first leg and came back and lost the second leg against Hydel. This year, we lost two games, and they were both at the Oval," he said.
In the first game, Kemar Reid led Hydel with a goal and an assist as the Ferry school turned back Cumberland 3-0. Reid fired Hydel in front after 26 minutes, and five minutes after the break he released Jordane Cameron, who netted the second. Then in time added on, Ewan Hamilton sealed the win from the penalty spot.
Hydel's coach, Corey Bennett, was pleased to reach their second final and first in six years.
"It (final) will carry a lot of pressure. The boys have been coming up from Pepsi and Colts, and they haven't won anything. They haven't been to a final in years. The last time we went to a final was 2012. But we are thankful we were able to come out on top, and we expect give a good showing (in final)," he said.