San Juan North Secondary continued their unbeaten start to the 2018 Secondary Schools Football Season (SSFL) this afternoon with a nail-biting 3-2 victory over Carapichaima East Secondary in Bourg Mulatresse.
San Juan’s burly striker Jerry Morris filled the big shoes of suspended skipper Renaldo Boyce, and his stylish double either side of halftime sealed the deal for the Jerry Moe-coached team. With the hard-fought victory, San Juan jumped to 13 points and consolidated their third-place position in the process.
Defending Premier Division champions Presentation College (San Fernando) continued their perfect start to the season as they clobbered Valencia Secondary 5-nil. A Jaiye Sheppard double sent the 2017 champs on their way, and the Premier Division newcomers did little to help their cause, with three of their standout players, Keegan Faria, Zidan Liverpool and Dwight Yorke, all seeing red in the second half.
Another newcomer in Bishop’s High School (Tobago) did not fear much better as they were spanked 3-nil by Naparima College at Lewis Street, San Fernando.
Meanwhile, in Westmoorings, St Anthony’s College triumphed in the “Battle of the Saints” with a 2-nil victory over rivals St Mary’s College, taking them to fourth on the 15-team table.
However, yet again, the teams from north Trinidad are in the shadow of the southern giants. San Juan North is trying to get the east zone a seat at the table though.
In the past few seasons, Moe’s San Juan outfit have always been rugged and uncompromising. And this season appears to be no different. The team is built around a solid spine, with the likes of Malik Farrier—a former QRC player—and Kareem John marshalling the defence, the dreadlocked Elair Brewster controlling the midfield, and Boyce and Morris bringing the firepower up top.
“We know the players we want and we know the players to look for, so we try to get players who could fit into our formation and our style of play,” Moe told Wired868, as he explained San Juan’s team structure. “Fortunately, this year Jerry Morris came in. He’s doing well but he is only 15 or 16 so he still has some growing to do.”
Morris scored a goal in San Juan’s opening day victory against Valencia on 13 September. But today, the bustling striker really introduced himself to the SSFL top flight.
“[Morris] is an intelligent player,” said Randolph Boyce, the Carapichaima coach. “He was moving off the ball well. I think the guys gave him a little too much room and there was a lack of focus in terms of switching on and marking him all the way.”
After Carapichaima’s lanky midfielder Luke Charles cancelled out a bizarre San Juan opener with a 41st minute header from a Josiah King free kick, Morris took centre stage and showed exactly what he could do when given too much shooting space.
On the stroke of halftime, Morris profited after some loose control by Charles in the midfield. Upon receiving possession, Morris charged towards goal and unleashed an absolute rocket past goalkeeper Aaron Best from outside the area.
The Carapichaima goalkeeper did his best; but it simply was not good enough. And instead of redeeming himself—after palming a 19th minute Isaiah Chase corner into his own net—Best was left clutching at straws.
It was a goal fit to win any match; but Morris was not done yet.
And in the 62nd minute, Morris—whose hustling and forceful play worried the “Caps” defenders all game—got the eventual game-winner, as he bent a sweet right-footed shot into the far corner, after Carapichaima defender Jeron Pascal misjudged a long punt from the back.
It was a mistake which cost the Central school dearly.
“We are conceding a lot of soft goals and that’s putting us in a lot of problems and we need to go back to the drawing board,” Boyce said. “I am happy with the building of play, the passing of the ball, winning the first and second balls and putting the opposition under extreme pressure for long periods of time. But, goals win matches and we didn’t score ours today.”
It took quite some time for Carapichaima to settle into the game. And after San Juan’s fortuitous opening item, the visitors survived a strong penalty appeal in the 29th minute when Best appeared to clip the legs of Morris in the penalty area.
“Caps” survived on that occasion but Morris got his own back in spectacular fashion.
“They really bring a team with ‘caps gun’ to come and war San Juan,” shouted one boisterous Bourg supporter, who appeared to do more instructing than Moe.
Carapichaima looked ready to make him eat his words at times.
Once Charles, who shifted between defensive assignments on Morris and Brewster, equalised in the 41st minute, the Central Zone Intercol champions had two decent opportunities to put their noses in front.
In the 43rd minute, San Juan goalkeeper Jushwar Wong produced a brilliant save from point blank range to deny lively midfielder Mecaheil Alexander. And seconds later, Caps captain Kevon Williams spanked an audacious half volley just wide from a ridiculous angle on the left flank.
But just before referee Marlon Peruse could blow for halftime, Morris lit up the affair with his thunderbolt, which left a few San Juan fans tumbling on the soggy grass banks.
“We had some solid individual performances and when we needed to be collective the boys rose to the occasion,” said Moe, as he gave special mention to Brewster, Chase, Farrier and Morris.
The lanky Farrier slotted in at the back for Elisha Garcia—who is currently being monitored by school doctors after they discovered an irregular heartbeat—and was a solid figure for San Juan today. He needed to be on his game too against Carapichaima’s tidy trio of Alexander, King and Williams.
Even when they trailed 3-1 in the second half, Carapichaima still moved the ball around with a measure of patience and confidence. Maybe that’s the kind of assuredness which comes after successive comeback victories.
And in the 65th minute, Caps looked like they were reaching to pull another other rabbit from the hat, as Alexander prodded home from close range after Wong stopped decent efforts by Williams and fellow attacker Daniel Pascal.
Best kept his team in the game with a point blank save to deny his new-found nemesis Morris in the 71st minute. Then, perhaps with the “Caps gun” jab at the back of their minds, Carapichaima began to to put Wong under pressure from all angles.
Seconds after Best’s save, imposing central midfielder Akeil Vespray banged a right-footer just over the San Juan bar from approximately 40 yards, while King followed suit with a left-footed attempt in the 81st minute.
A week ago, King scored a stoppage time screamer to clinch a 4-3 comeback victory against St Augustine Secondary. But today, there was no cigar for the visiting Carapichaima squad.
“Every day is not Sunday,” Boyce said. “We can’t be coming from behind all the time and expect to be winning, so we have some work to do with tightening up [defensively].”
San Juan have had a very strong start to the season, tallying four wins and a draw thus far. However, Moe doesn’t think they should be considered title challengers just yet.
“I think in order to win the League you need to have some key players and we’re missing one or two key players,” Moe said. “If we could win the League that’s fine but we will take it one game at a time.”
Today, the bustling Morris put up his hand to be counted. And on their day, the Morris-Boyce striking combination will give opposing centre backs a lot of grief this season.
San Juan North (4-4-2): 30.Jushwar Wong (GK); 16.Obadele Dickson, 18.Malik Farrier, 6.Jordan Britto, 17.Kareem John (captain); 13.Christon Mitchell (8.Jeremiah Rodriguez) 3.Elair Brewster, 14.Darion Warner, 11.Isaiah Chase (21.Pharez Sutherland 90+2); 10.Jerry Morris, 12.Kendo Matthias (7.Josiah Phillip 80).
Unused Substitutes: 1.Emmanuel Clarke (GK), 5.De Jon Lezama 22.Kareem Rodriguez, 23.Kareem Pope.
Coach: Jerry Moe
Carapichaima East (5-3-2): 1.Aaron Best (GK); 12.Emmanuel Correia, 2.Jeron Pascal, 5.Luke Charles, 18.Akeil Vespray, 3.Symron Wiseman; 17.Mecaheil Alexander, 6.Josiah King, 8.Keilon Burnett (21.Ivan Dos Santos 74); 10.Daniel Pascal (14.Resean Britto 89), 9.Kevon Williams (captain).
Unused Substitutes: 22.Tyrell Leacock (GK), 13.Jaedon Miller, 15.Mekiy Rocastle, 16.Jeremiah Chackon, 19.Dexter Neils.
Coach: Randolph Boyce
Referee: Marlon Peruse
SSFL Premier Division results
(Wednesday 3 October)
San Juan North 3 (Isaiah Chase 19, Jerry Morris 45, 62), Carapichaima East 2 (Luke Charles 41, Mecaheil Alexander 65) at Bourg Mulatresse;
Presentation (San F’do) 5 (Justin Cornwall 38, Jaiye Sheppard 47, 49, Shakeem Julien, Jadel Sinclair 68), Valencia Secondary 0 at Presentation;
East Mucurapo 3 (Jaheim Aguilleria OG, Zion McLeod 16, Kidane Lewis), Fatima College 2 (Mikhail McComie 6, Luke Darwent 37) at Fatima;
Naparima College 3 (Tyrike Andrews 14, Isa Bramble 49, Jeron Pantor 56 pen), Bishop’s High (Tobago) 0 at Lewis Street;
St Anthony’s College 2 (Kiron Manswell 17, Quinn Frederick 31), St Mary’s College 0 at Westmoorings;
St Benedict’s College 1 (Jaycee Paras), St Augustine Secondary 0 at St Benedict’s;
Trinity College (Moka) vs QRC at Moka;
*—Postponed due to bad weather
Trinity College East are on a bye
(Saturday 6 October)
Bishop’s High (Tobago) vs St Augustine, 3:40pm, Plymouth Recreation Ground;
Carapichaima East vs Naparima College, 3:40pm, Carapichaima;
East Mucurapo vs Trinity College East, 3:40pm, St Anthony’s College grounds, Westmoorings;
Fatima College vs San Juan North, 3:40pm, Fatima;
QRC vs Presentation (San F’do), 3:40pm, QRC;
St Benedict’s College vs Trinity College (Moka), 3:40pm, St Benedict’s;
Valencia Secondary vs St Anthony’s College, 3:40pm, Valencia;
St Mary’s College are on a bye
Editor’s Note: See Wired868 later for full match report and scores.
2018 SSFL Premier Division