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“Pres Lions” roar in North as Premier title goes South again; Presentation conquer SSFL

“Ain’t nobody, ain’t nobody better than Pres!”

Uninhibited jubilation. When referee Nicholas Murray’s whistle sounded to signal the end of today’s final round match at Mucurapo Road, Presentation College (San Fernando) celebrated their 2-1 away win over Fatima as if celebrations were going out of style.

Photo: Presentation College (San Fernando) supporters prepare to storm the field at the final whistle in Mucurapo Road today as the “Pres Lions” defeated Fatima College 2-1 to secure the 2017 SSFL Premier Division title.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

The victory meant that the “Pres Lions” had finally copped the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Premier Division title in a topsy-turvy season when, on the final match-day, any one of three teams still had a mathematical chance of being crowned champions.

“The institution is bigger than us and this win was for the institution,” said Presentation coach Shawn Cooper. “I think the principal and the staff at Presentation College worked tirelessly in keeping the boys focused both on and off the field as student athletes.”

But Fatima ensured that Presentation’s victory was no walk in the park and, on an exciting final day in the Premier Division, the visitors needed a second-half strike by sub Nathaniel Dyer to seal the title.

Profiting from an SSFL boardroom decision which went against Shiva Boys Hindu College for their use of defender Matthew Beal, Presentation had yesterday jumped to the top of the table. And they were able to stay there thanks to Dyer’s 63rd minute goal.

The teams were all tied up after the first half, Jordan Riley’s penalty being cancelled out by a leveller from opposing skipper Joshua Araujo-Wilson.

Photo: Fatima College captain Joshua Araujo-Wilson (left) and Presentation College star Jordan Riley challenge for the ball during SSFL action at Mucurapo Road on 4 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Meanwhile, Naparima, nipping at the leaders’ heels at the start of the day, were doing their utmost to pile on the pressure, leading Trinity College Moka 5-0 at the interval. The 2014 and 2015 title-winners eventually ran out 8-2 victors, good enough to propel them above title hopefuls St Anthony’s College who succumbed away to CIC in the “Battle of the Saints” at Serpentine Road.

“Today, it was a difficult [game] because I had to keep the boys focused,” Cooper told Wired868. “Coming into the game with a two-point lead, a draw could have left us losing on goal difference to Naparima because we knew they had Moka at home and they took them to a bigger and flatter field in Point Fortin where they could use their pace and guile.”

The news of Naps’ dominant performance at Mahaica Oval did not dampen the ardour of one lanky Presentation supporter who remained bold in his predictions.

“Naps could score about 15!” he exclaimed, “but we will still get the job done.”

He might well have believed every word of it but it was not obvious to the observer; his body language as he constantly paced up and down the side-lines did not convey the same confidence contained in his statement.

Perhaps the Presentation players too weren’t quite feeling it as they never really looked like the cohesive unit their fans have become accustomed to seeing. Truth be told, Fatima never really allowed them to settle, coach Wayne Sheppard’s side stroking the ball around nicely and pressing the Lions relentlessly.

Photo: Fatima College coach Wayne Sheppard (foreground) encourages his players during SSFL action against Presentation College at Mucurapo Road on 4 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“Is only one team under pressure inno,” Sheppard reminded his audience. “We are good.”

Sheppard, it is worth noting, is assistant coach to Cooper at Queen’s Park Cricket Club, a factor which, according to Cooper, contributed to a more keenly fought contest.

“Their coach Wayne Sheppard and I work together at Queen’s Park. He’s a very knowledgeable coach […] and he knows me inside out.”

Prior to Riley’s 21st-minute penalty, the hosts had looked a more composed unit but their 39th-minute leveller was, to tell the truth, fortuitous. Araujo-Wilson found himself on spot to nod the ball into the net from close range after a Presentation defender inadvertently headed a set piece off Jabari Gray’s crossbar.

Araujo-Wilson’s headed equaliser made for an interesting off-the-field side-show between Cooper and Sheppard and a couple near misses by Presentation midfielder Darnell Hospedales raised the tension for Cooper even more. On the stroke of half-time, the midfielder sent a close-range volley wide of the mark after fellow midfielder Terrell Williams played a sweet, lofted pass from the right.

“How he miss there?” a perplexed Cooper asked his technical staff members.

Photo: Presentation College winger Jordan Riley (right) tries to get around Fatima College goalkeeper Jacob Camacho during SSFL action at Mucurapo Road on 4 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

With National Under-15 attacker Jean-Heim McFee up top, Fatima always looked a threat. However, Riley is no slouch on the break himself and he gave wing-back Luke Boucaud a good runaround today.

Kees Dieffenthaller’s “Fighter” had been blaring from the Pres dressing room and the new Premier Division champions must have drawn their pre-game inspiration from it. On the hour mark, Cooper made a substitution which ultimately sent the title to the Southland and Presentation’s doorstep.

Cooper declined to take all the credit for himself, though, heaping praise on his technical staff and Presentation Principal Dexter Mitchell.

“I don’t think they could have gotten a better principal,” he told Wired868. “Since Mr Mitchell came to the school, we have been winning a lot of things; he’s a sort of blessing in disguise for us…

“We had the top performer in the Caribbean in the CAPE exam. And last week I asked him what box is left to tick and he said to bring home a title.”

Photo: Presentation College (San Fernando) coach Shawn Cooper (centre) tries to satisfy a flurry of interview requests after his team’s 2-1 win over Fatima College secured their first SSFL Premier Division title at Mucurapo Road on 4 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

The speedy Dyer, who has often been used to devastating effect off the bench alongside Jaiye Sheppard, came on the pitch in the 60th minute. Just three minutes later, he had a goal, decisive as it turned out. Stealing the ball off an opposing defender, he wiggled past a couple more Fatima players before banging a right-footed effort past Jacob Camacho between the uprights.

Dyer was able to bask in the glory of his achievement immediately after his close-range effort had rippled the net. But twice thereafter, the home team came dangerously close to spoiling the moment for him with efforts from lanky National Under-15 attacker Jean-Heim McFee.

“I must say kudos to them for giving this last game such a momentous feeling because it was not like we ran over them,” Cooper conceded. “They gave us a fight down to the very last minute.”

In the end, however, when Murray’s final whistle went, the score-line still read Presentation 2, Fatima 1.

And the southerners made merry on Mucurapo Road singing the refrain:

“Ain’t nobody, ain’t nobody better than Pres!”

Photo: Presentation College (San Fernando) captain Jabari Gray (centre) holds the SSFL Premier Division trophy as the “Pres Lions” celebrate after their 2-1 win over Fatima College at Mucurapo Road on 4 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

(Teams)

Fatima College (5-3-2): 1.Jacob Camacho (GK); 7.Stephon Marcano, 22.Jaheim Aguilleria (15.Elisha Taylor 77), 8.Isaiah Lamont, 3.Joshua Evans, 14.Luke Boucaud; 17.Luke Darwent (13.Zachary Welch 70), 10.Andrew Abraham, 20.Jean-Heim McFee; 4.Joshua Araujo-Wilson, 9.Mikhail McComie (11.Justin Araujo-Wilson 65).

Unused Substitutes: 21.Luke Gooding, 36.Lucas Farfan, 40.Matthew Pereira.

Coach: Wayne Sheppard

Presentation College (San F’do) (4-2-3-1): 22.Jabari Gray (GK) [captain]; 16.Mylz Barrington, 3.Juaval Roberts, 2.Shirwin Noel, 17.Omari Cobham (11.Nathaniel Dyer 60); 12.Jerrin Jackie, 8.Terrell Williams; 10.Jordan Riley (15.Aleem Barclay 90+5), 6.Ackeel Jacob (9.Jaiye Sheppard 72), 27.Darnell Hospedales; 7.Omri Baird.

Unused Substitutes: 1.Ishmael Salaam (GK), 13.Christoph John, 19.Zion Springer, 20.Shakeem Julien.

Coach: Shawn Cooper

Referee: Nicholas Murray

Wired868 Man-of-the-Match: Jordan Riley (Presentation College)

Photo: Presentation College (San Fernando) winger Jordan Riley (centre) tries to escape the attentions of a Naparima College opponent during SSFL action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella on 27 September 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

SSFL Premier Division Results

(Saturday 4 November)

Fatima College 1 (Joshua Araujo-Wilson 39), Presentation College 2 (Jordan Riley 21 pen, Nathaniel Dyer 63) at Fatima;

St Benedict’s College 3, Shiva Boys HC 2 at Barrackpore;

St Mary’s College 2 (Terran Winner 49, Devon Charles 63), St Anthony’s College 1 (Krishon Alexander 57) at St Mary’s;

Naparima College 8 (Rondell Payne 5, Ronaldo McIntosh 6, 60, Kodel Frontin 19, Declan Marcelle 37, Mark Ramdeen 40, 50, Judah St Louis 68), Trinity College Moka 2 (Saleem Henry 72, Jevon Ward 88) at Mahaica Oval.

Photo: St Mary’s College attacker Terran Winner (right) prepares to score his team’s opening goal past St Anthony’s College goalkeeper Elijah Shade (centre) and a retreating defender during SSFL action at Serpentine Road on 4 November 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Champions: Presentation College (San Fernando)

Leading Scorer: Judah St Louis (Naparima College) 11 goals

Demoted: Speyside High School, Signal Hill Secondary, Shiva Boys Hindu College and the suspended Fyzabad Secondary.

Promoted: East Mucurapo Secondary (North Zone), Valencia Secondary (East Zone), Bishop’s High School (Tobago Zone).

Photo: St Anthony’s College playmaker Che Benny (centre) tries to navigate past three St Mary’s College opponents during SSFL action at Serpentine Road on 4 November 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

SSFL Standings

(Played-Won-Drew-Lost-Goals For-Goals Against-Points)

  1. Presentation        14-11-2-1-39-12-35
  2. Naparima             14-10-3-1-38-15-33
  3. St Anthony’s         14-9-3-2-43-22-30
  4. San Juan N           14-7-5-2-38-16-26
  5. Fatima                   14-8-1-5-22-16-25
  6. St Mary’s               14-5-4-5-28-28-19
  7. Carapichaima E    14-5-3-6-23-21-18
  8. Trinity East            14-5-3-6-22-20-18
  9. QRC                       14-5-3-6-25-25-18
  10. St Augustine         14-5-1-8-26-32-16
  11. St Benedict’s        14-4-4-6-22-29-16
  12. Trinity Moka          14-4-2-8-20-38-14
  13. Speyside High      14-3-1-10-114410
  14. Signal Hill              14-2-3-9-13-28-9
  15. Shiva Boys HC      14-3-0-11-12-37-9

About Roneil Walcott

Roneil Walcott
Roneil Walcott is an avid sports fan and freelance reporter with a BA in Mass Communication from COSTAATT. Roneil is a former Harvard and St Mary's College cricketer who once had lofty aspirations of bringing joy to sport fans with the West Indies team. Now, his mission is to keep them on the edge of their seats with sharp commentary from off the playing field.

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34 comments

  1. “Ain’t nobody better than Shiva” shiva boy’s 1 vs pres 0 South zone intercol semi final..
    We beat pres again lol talk nahh..

  2. Congrats Pres,south is proud of you. We are rich in oil and rich in football.

  3. * chooks fire* …. Fake school. Fake football. Fake News.

  4. Hats off to pres keep on moving and dont stop till you reach the top.

  5. Hey the other teams broke the rules. You can’t blame the administrators of the league for this, blame the schools.

  6. Congrats.. All how they tried to make a North team win, Pres & Naps showed them football is won on the playing field

  7. Well done Pres. South time again !

  8. Congrats to the SSFL board…

  9. No one better than pres my ass…Off the field issues were better than pres..lol

  10. Jordan Riley for player of the year.

    • I agree. Definitely one of the top players this year. Che Benny is also having a good season.
      Judah and Pappy may be more talented but not as consistent as Jordan.

  11. Congratulations to Presentation college for that thrilling conclusion to the finals. Hope next year, administration of all schools abide by the rules governing the ability of students to participate.

  12. Here is a video of the Jordan Riley penalty opener for Pres! The crowd commentary is priceless. “We in ah recession; it have no saving!”

  13. Congrats to them…but let’s hope it’s not premature =D anything happening nowadays !

  14. Congrats Pres on winning the league and you did not do it by trying to win by protest. St. Anthony should take example.As for Shiva boys you all are champions in my book and will be back soon in the premier devision.

  15. Hard work pays off! Good kids all!!

  16. Congratulations to Presentation College of San Fernando