Naparima College and Presentation College (San Fernando) will resume their arch rivalry in next Monday’s 2018 National Intercol South Zone finals, after wins over Pleasantville and St Benedict’s College respectively in Marabella today.
It means a final tasty ‘South Clasico’ for the 2018 season, after ‘Naps’ pipped the ‘Pres Lions’ to the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Premier Division title on the final day of the regular season.
Elsewhere in the North Zone, St Anthony’s College whipped Queen’s Royal College (QRC) 4-1 while Trinity College (Moka) edged East Mucurapo Secondary 5-4 on kicks from the penalty mark to advance to their zonal finals.
In the North and South Zones, 2018 will see the crowning of a new champion after St Mary’s College and Shiva Boys Hindu College failed to defend their titles for varying reasons.
For Naparima, today’s semifinal fixture was a straightforward affair as they romped to a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Pleasantville Secondary. While, in the second game of a Mannie Ramjohn Stadium double header, Presentation needed a late Jaiye Sheppard winner to edge St Benedict’s College 1-0 in the blistering sun on Monday afternoon.
Pleasantville, are all but guaranteed a place in the 2019 Premier Division via the Big Five competition, but, today, the South Zone Championship team were outclassed throughout by the current top flight champions. It only took Naps a few minutes to open the scoring, after Kodel Frontin got on the end of a pull back from Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 attacker Mark Ramdeen.
Ramdeen, who recently returned from the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, led the charge for Naparima, as he buzzed around the field and seemed a class above his opponents.
With just about 20 minutes on the clock, he had Pleasantville goalkeeper Raheem Lee completely bamboozled with a thumping left footed drive, which cannoned off the underside of the bar. And Ramdeen was in the thick of the action again for team’s second item, as he played Seon Shippley through the middle; and the lanky attacker made no mistake.
Shippley got his second just after the interval with a lobbed effort that was as clinical as it was fortunate. Lee and his defenders seemed at odds with who should clear a long punted ball and Shippley exploited their indecision, as he snuck in to flick the bouncing ball over the hapless goalkeeper.
All that was left was for the lively Ramdeen to get on the scoresheet. The Naps ace seemed destined not to score after striking the framework twice in quick succession.
However, Ramdeen’s coup de grâs was worth the wait. He gained control of the ball—30 yards from the Pleasantville goal—and flicked the ball past one opponent, then another, clipping the sphere over the head of the third player and then slotted beyond Lee; all in the same fluid, composed motion.
It was a magisterial moment and invited comparisons with the work of another left footer with an Argentine passport.
The second semifinal was more a game of attrition, as both teams huffed and puffed without managing sufficient quality in the final third.
It could have been very different for St Benedict’s coach and his team early on in the contest though, had referee Rodphin Harris not dismissed what appeared to be a boot to the face of St Benedict’s attacker Jaycee Paras, as he contested the ball in the opposing box.
Presentation midfielders Ackeel “Hulk” Jacob and Jordan Riley tried to wrestle the ascendency thereafter but St Benedict’s goalkeeper Leonard Richardson capably handled their cracks from distance.
At the other end, Pres goalkeeper Jabari Gray counted his blessings as the busy Paras skewed his shot wide of the far post, after a deft flick of the ball over the head of opposing defender Darnell Hospedales—in the opposing penalty box—left him with the goal at his mercy.
It was one of St Benedict’s few clear cut chances as the Pres trio of Justin Cornwall, Jerrin Jackie and Hospedales stuck to the heels of opposing talisman Keon Boney throughout the 90 minutes. Boney has been a game winner for Benedict’s all season—especially with cracks from distance—but he never got the chance to turn and set his sights in the South semifinal.
The game seemed destined for spotkicks when Sheppard stepped up in the dying moments. Riley finally found room on the right and whipped in a cross for the diminutive attacker, who shook off a shocking first half miss to calmly place in the final corner.
He credited the goal and the winner to coach Shawn Cooper’s half time talk.
“We started a bit slow and during the half time, coach told us that we had to play faster,” said Sheppard, after the match. “I missed a goal in the first half that I should have scored. [At] half time, coach motivated me and told me that I need to play faster and take on the defender. I did that and scored.”
Looking ahead to a mouth-watering South Intercol final, Sheppard hopes to avenge their 3-1 loss to Naparima on 30 October, which paved the way for Naps to snatch the Premier Division title.
“We will go back and learn from the previous mistakes when we played them,” he said, “and hopefully we would get that victory.”
The self-proclaimed juggernauts, Naparima, have an even stronger cast available now with Ramdeen’s return and might be licking their chops at thought of piling more grief on their rivals.
It’s set up to be a south derby cracker.
Naparima (4-2-3-1): Levi Fernandez (GK) (C); 5.Daquon Foster, 4.Tyrike Andrews, 12.Asukile Christopher, 15.Marvin Waldrop; 6.Shoaib Khan (21.Nirvan Ramnarine), 17.Nathaniel Perouse; 7.Mark Ramdeen (14.Molik Khan), 8.Kodel Frontin, 19.Isa Bramble; 20.Seon Shippley (9.Ezekiel Kesar).
Unused Substitutes: 30.Enrique Changiah (GK), 13.Jeron Pantor, 18.Caleb Gaspar, 24.Jabari Lee.
Coach: Angus Eve
Pleasantville Secondary (4-3-3): Raheem Lee (GK)(C); 3.Joshua Cooper; 8.Ephraim Brown, 5.Mark Hernandez, 16.Makwesi Duson (2.Turrel Norton); 14.Dillon Yearwood ,4.Emmanuel Mohammed, 17. Alemo Sampson (6.Miguel Cedeno); 12.Jishawn Joefield, 10.Khadeem De Abreau, 11.Sherwin Andrews
Unused Substitutes: 7.Hezron Matthews, 9.Keston Archibald, 18.Ezekiel Francois, 19.Joshua Abuckle, 21.Rushon Randy.
Coach: Kevin Small
Presentation College (4-1-4-1): 28.Jabari Gray (GK (C); 3.Juaval Roberts, 5.Justin Cornwall, 27.Darnel Hospedales, 2.Zion Allen; 12.Jerrin Jackie; 7.Omri Baird (29.Jardel Sinclair), 15.Aleem Barclay, 9.Jayie Sheppard, 10.Jordan Riley; 6.Ackeel Jacob.
Unused Substitutes: 1.Isaiah Williams, 14.Tylon Roseman, 18.Nkosi Charles, 19.Terrell Noel, 23.Christoph John, 24.Adica Ash.
Coach: Shawn Cooper
St Benedict’s College (4-3-3): 22.Leonard Richardson (GK); 18.Bjorn Goolie, 32.Yahtham Henry, 5.Anderson Peters, 13.Khayyam Headley; 6.Darnell Charles (12.Rhowen Stewart Williams), 16.Andez Tallan (17.Joshua Joseph) 7.Aaron Rodney; 3.Merlik Campbell (25.Shivaughn Bess) 20.Keon Boney, 9.Jaycee Paras
Unused Substitutes: 1.Daniel Johnson, 8.Justin Chu Foon, 19.Tevon Deboulet, 21.Jabari Jones.
Coach: Reynold Carrington
(19 November 2018)
Naparima College 4 (Kodel Frontin, Seon Shippley 37, 50, Mark Ramdeen 72), Pleasantville Secondary 0 at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
Presentation College 1 (Jaiye Sheppard 86), St Benedict’s College 0 at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
St Anthony’s College 4 (Zion Williams , Josiah Edwards, Haile Beckles), QRC 1 (Miguel Cross) at Serpentine Road;
Trinity College (Moka) 0, East Mucurapo 0 at Mucurapo Road;
*—Trinity won 5-4 on kicks from the penalty mark.