If you are come up against Trinity College (Moka), pray that the game doesn’t go to penalties.
The boys from Maraval showed nerves of steel yesterday as they clinched their second straight penalty shootout victory to lift the North Zone Intercol trophy before a 3,000-strong crowd at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
It had been 36 years since Trinity were in a North Zone final. And, yesterday, they upstaged the favourites, St Anthony’s College, to notch a 5-4 victory from the spot after the teams battled to a 1-1 score line in regulation time.
And Trinity custodian Desean Bowen was not the only man in the spotlight, as substitute goalkeeper Caleb Moore made three crucial saves in the shootout after taking Bowen’s place in the 90th minute.
Moore’s desire and persistence on the training ground persuaded Trinity coach Marlon Minguel to insert him at crunch time, and the lanky custodian did not disappoint his coach or the Trinity faithful.
“[The decision to put Caleb Moore in goal for the penalty shoot out was] two-fold,” Minguel told Wired868. “Caleb is the one who is more adapted to the penalty situation. And for me, he needed a chance to play too and how fitting it [turned out to be].
“It was encouraging to see that he was determined to get out there and pull out some saves. He kept telling me in the lead up to the game. ‘Coachman, coachman, just watch me.’ And I respect that confidence and faith he had in himself. I respect that.”
Moore had some act to follow too, as his colleague Bowen made two shootout saves against St Mary’s College in the North Zone semifinal, and the Trinity ‘number one’ also showed excellent form yesterday to help his team past St Anthony’s.
After Trinity took a 16th minute lead through a ruthless Isiah McClean item, Bowen showed great athleticism and reflexes to ward off a number of St Anthony’s chances. But the confident keeper did not do it alone though, as his defence and midfield worked overtime to stop the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Premier Division’s highest scoring team.
The “Westmoorings Tigers” found it difficult to impose themselves with their usual slick passing and Trinity defenders Zaki Skinner and Isaiah Alexander showed that aerial crosses were just meat and drink. After all, St Anthony’s attacking trio of Kathon St Hillaire, Haile Beckles and Tyrese Bailey won’t tower over many.
And Minguel had his plans for the dangerous Tigers trio too…
“For this game we knew St Anthony’s is one of the few teams that have attacking potency; they can score at any time. So we tried to restrict them from playing penetrative passes and their flow in attack. We wanted to take away the danger of the three frontrunners [in St Hillaire, Beckles and Bailey.]
“We allowed them to play football and when they felt like they were in it, boom we spring the counter attack. We allowed them space to play. But you see once these three frontrunners get room to run at you and you don’t have any coverage on them they will destroy you.”
Trinity’s compactness in defence, and the disciplined shape of their 5-3-2 stopped St Anthony’s from playing at their preferred frenetic pace. Although, despite settling for a more patient and measured build-up, the Tigers fashioned two excellent chances near the half hour mark.
In the 27th minute, Beckles shot overbar from close range after meeting a Bailey cross. And Bowen made a strong one-handed save to stop a low drive by playmaker Che Benny, mere seconds later.
However, the boys from Moka looked a threat on the counter and they carved out promising chances at the other end despite giving up the lion’s share of possession. Goal scorer McClean and fellow attacker Josiah Joseph worked well in tandem on the break, and they tried to exploit St Anthony’s right side more often than not.
In the 36th minute, Trinity wingback Bryan Walkes forced goalkeeper Jabari Brice into a reaction save after meeting a cross from the left, while McClean fired wide from 10 yards out in first half stoppage time after Joseph danced past some defenders down the left.
Joseph was disappointed that his hard work went to naught, and he almost clouted his strike partner in frustration at the miss.
In the second half, McClean and Joseph preserved most of their energy for defensive work as Trinity often defended with everyone behind the ball.
For St Anthony’s, Beckles and Benny took on the gauntlet thrown down by Trinity. Benny sought to cause havoc with his long range shooting and incisive passing, while the speedy Beckles was up for the fight both literally and figuratively.
In the 53rd minute, the diminutive Beckles sent a right-footed shot agonisingly wide after leaving two defenders for dead with a deft turn outside the area.
Trinity were allowing their opponents to have possession in the midfield areas, but importantly for them, the Tigers weren’t able to get their tricky trio behind their defence in a decisive manner.
“I find we lacked movement in the midfield,” St Anthony’s assistant coach, Michael Alexander told Wired868. “We weren’t getting inside the box in numbers as we did against Mucurapo. Trinity came and had their plan and they decided to have the whole eleven in the half…”
The St Anthony’s team fielded five national youth players yesterday, and the services of National Under-17 striker Jaydon Prowell were called up in the 62nd minute. However, Prowell would eventually spend most of his time outside the penalty area as opposed to in it.
In the 77th minute, the Tigers finally clawed themselves back on level terms though, as Nkosi Salandy got a slight tough on Jules Lee’s teasing set piece delivery. Bowen, who appeared unbeatable up to that point, was left flapping at air as the ball nestled in the back of the net.
With the penalty shootout drawing closer, Minguel called for goalkeeper Moore to be on standby. However, the 2015 National Intercol finalists had one last hurrah, as they tried to nick the win in normal time.
In the 88th minute, St Hillaire whipped a teasing ball across the face of the opposing goal, while Benny forced Bowen into a save from a long range shot a minute later.
Benny possibly had the wonder goal from Shiva Boys Hindu College maestro Tyrel “Pappy” Emmanuel on his mind when he lined up his shot from 40-plus yards. But Minguel and company would have been relieved to see a retreating Bowen making the save.
There was more drama to follow in the penalty shootout, as St Anthony’s scored their first three kicks to take a 3-1 lead. And when Brice stopped Skinner’s third attempt for Trinity, it appeared as though the Tigers had a paw on the North Zone Intercol trophy.
However, referee Garfield Weeks ordered a re-take after he spotted an infringement on the goal line by Brice, who received a yellow card to rub salt in the wound. Skinner then cut the deficit to one as he beat Brice on the second try.
The teams then went into sudden death penalties at four-apiece as Trinity scored their next two kicks, while Moore stopped Bailey’s attempt.
Both teams then traded two penalty misses and the tension inside the Hasely Crawford Stadium could have been cut with a knife.
On St Anthony’s eight kick, St Hillaire had his effort stopped by the trailing legs of Moore, and it made way for Joseph to be a hero. The Trinity attacker kept his composure as he drilled his shot past the flat-footed Brice.
Cue loud celebrations as the Trinity contingent, which accounted for approximately 70 percent of the crowd support, went into an uproar.
“I could only commend the team, I can only commend them,” said Minguel. “It’s not easy to change your game plan and tactics which carried you through the season for one particular game. And these boys are very intelligent footballers.
“They soaked it in well and they kept the discipline. They were focused. And all I can say is great work and give all accolades to them.”
The Trinity coach reflected on the hard work done in the vineyard in previous years.
“In 2012, we were playing in the North Zone Division and we were demoted. In 2013, when we played in the Championship Division, I started a program. And we called it ‘Work in Progress’. And in 2013 we won everything on display in the Championship Division. We won the league, knockout and nationwide knockout in the Championship.
“Some of the boys were there, so they know what winning is about. So from that time we kept grooming players and bringing them to a certain level.”
For St Anthony’s, the taste of defeat was too bitter to swallow and many of the players headed towards the tunnel before they could receive medals.
However, Alexander, who revealed that 17 year-old standout defender Derron John was banned from the final after playing in an Under-16 game during the week, urged his players to lift their heads.
“[We told them] don’t hold your heads down. Go ahead and study your schoolwork. Get back into school and focus on being a student once more. Get your passes and prepare for next year, prepare your life.
“Football isn’t all. It might be a main part in many of their lives but at the end of the day they are students and they need to get their passes to go forward… Most of all we give God all the glory and all the honour.”
Trinity will try to continue their own progress on Wednesday afternoon, when they meet San Juan North Secondary in the National Intercol semifinals at the same Port of Spain venue from 4pm.
Trinity College Moka (5-3-2): 1.Desean Bowen (GK) (25.Caleb Moore 90); 16.Bryan Walkes, 5.Isaiah Alexander, 4.Zaki Skinner (captain), 2.Mateus Callender, 17.Raheim Jawahir; 7.Saleem Henry, 6.Jelani Dowers, 8.Kobe Knights (21.Terrel Durham 81); 10.Isiah McClean, 11.Josiah Joseph.
Unused Substitutes: 3.Joshua Trumpet, 9.Michael Quamina, 18.Joshua Fraser, 19.Olomidara Olukayode, 20.Temesgn Tezera.
Coach: Marlon Minguel
St Anthony’s College (4-3-3): 1.Jabari Brice (GK); 23.Sowande Prieto (17.Krishon Alexander 71), 14.Nicaya Mahon (20.Yevan Rajpaul 90+1), 4.Nkosi Salandy, 5.Marc Robertson; 9.Che Benny, 8.Jules Lee (captain), 13.Shem Clauzel (24.Jaydon Prowell 62); 7.Kathon St Hillaire, 11.Haile Beckles, 10.Tyrese Bailey.
Unused Substitutes: 26.Elijah Shade (GK), 15.Nicholas Moyou, 16.Jordan Barclay, 18.Ronaldo Jacob.
Coach: Ronald Daniel
Referee: Garfield Weeks
Man of the Match: Desean Bowen (Trinity College Moka)
Che Benny (St Anthony’s) scores, Isaiah Alexander (Trinity) saved by Brice;
Haile Beckles (St Anthony’s) scores and leaves Moore and Saleem Henry with parting words, Saleem Henry (Trinity) scores;
Yevan Rajpaul (St Anthony’s) scores, Zaki Skinner (Trinity) scores on second attempt after Brice was adjudged to have committed an offence with the first try;
Tyrese Bailey (St Anthony’s) saved, Mateus Callendar (Trinity) scores after taking a ridiculously long run-up;
Jules Lee (St Anthony’s) scores, Bryan Walkes (Trinity) scores despite fingertip from Brice;
Jaydon Prowell (St Anthony’s) sends kick over bar, Isiah McClean (Trinity) hits crossbar after fancy run-up;
Krishon Alexander (St Anthony’s) saved after Moore took off early, Caleb Moore (Trinity) missed;
Kathon St Hillaire (St Anthony’s) saved by Moore’s legs, Josiah Joseph (Trinity) scores as Brice doesn’t even attempt a dive.
Friday 25 November
(North Zone Intercol Finals)
Trinity College Moka 1 (Isiah McClean 16), St Anthony’s College 1 (Nkosi Salandy 77) at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
*—Trinity College won 5-4 on kicks from the penalty spot
Upcoming National Intercol fixtures
Wednesday 30 November
(National Intercol Quarterfinals)
Central Zone Winner vs Signal Hill, 3.30pm, Dwight Yorke Stadium;
(National Intercol Semifinals)
Trinity College (Moka) vs San Juan North, 4.15pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Friday 2 December
(National Intercol Semifinals)
Presentation College (San F’do) vs Central/Signal Hill, 3:30 pm, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
Tuesday 6 December
(National Intercol Finals)
WINNER Semi-final 1 vs WINNER Semi-final 2
Upcoming Girls’ National Intercol fixtures
Sunday 27 November
(Girls’ National Intercol Semifinals)
St Augustine vs Bishop’s Anstey POS, 3:30 pm, Larry Gomes Stadium;
Wednesday 30 November
(Girls’ National Intercol quarterfinals)
Signal Hill vs Carapichaima East, 3:30 pm, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
Friday 2 December
(Girls’ National Intercol Semifinals)
Fyzabad Secondary vs Tobago/Central Zone Winner, 3:30 pm, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
Tuesday 6 December
(National Girls Intercol Finals)
Winner Semi-final 1 vs Winner Semi-final 2