PEPSI Hikers and GCC seemed poised for a final showdown, while the junior division remains wide open with some surprise front-runners in Old Fort Shooting Stars and Under 19 Mix in the Noble House Goals Galore Indoor Hockey Competition at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall yesterday.
Saturday evening’s matches saw Blue Steel turn in two impressive performances to remain in contention to challenge GCC for a place in the final. After despatching Kingston hockey 14 – 10 earlier in the day, Blue Steel returned for their second challenge of the evening, a head to head battle with GCC. GCC dominated possession in the opening half but could not penetrate the solid Blue Steel defence which included a fine performance from goalkeeper Rawl Davson. With GCC conceding a three goal handicap at the start, theirs was the urgency to attack but apart from a lone Andrew Xavier deflection goal, the first half remained quiet.
The Steel conceded a penalty corner two minutes into the second half and GCC captain Devin Hooper sent the ball screaming into the net to signal his team’s determination for success. Young Keon McKenzie however responded three minutes later with an impressive solo run up the left side before cutting right and slipping the ball past Medroy Scotland in the GCC goal.
With GCC being the more dominant side, Orland Semple and Devin Hooper with his second drew the side within one but time was running short. With four minutes remaining, GCC took a gamble in withdrawing their goalkeeper in favour of an extra field player to apply greater pressure on the GCC defence. The ploy proves worthwhile as Kevin Spencer received a pass on the left in open field and blasted home a low hard shot to the goalkeeper’s left. The final buzzer would leave the two sides with one point each and both hanging on to a chance for the final.
The Hikers secured yet another victory, this time a 13 – 11 score over Kingston hockey which had begun the match with a 10 goal disparity in their favour. Aroydy Branford hammered home a match-leading five goals for the Hikers in the one-sided affair while Captain Robert France added a hat-trick, Jamarj Assanah a double and the smiling Andrew Stewart completed their tally with a single. Dwight McCalman, who has been having a consistently solid tournament, scored the lone goal for Kingston.
The Gladiators and Saints played to a 10 – 10 stalemate in the remaining senior division fixture with both teams finishing out of the running for a top spot.
The junior division moved to the knockout stage and the thriller of the day was the duel between the Spartans and Saints. With the Spartans beginning on +1 and Saints with +6 goals, Captain Marzana Fiedtkou and striker Aliyah Gordon got to work from the opening whistle and scored three goals between them in the first half. The second half would see a similar performance from the Spartans as Fiedtkou and Aliyah both accumulated hatricks in the match. Saints Captain Ezekiel Springer and Meshach Williams however each managed a second half goal which drew the teams even at the final whistle on 6 – 6. The resulting penalty shootout seemed to lean in the favour of the more experienced Spartans, but newcomer Delmar Ng in goal for Saints stepped up to the challenge and denied two of the Spartans three attacks. With Saints scoring two of their own tries, the youngsters were swarmed by excited supporters in making their first semi-final.
Revelation with a +8 handicap proved too much for the Hikers ladies (+3) in their knockout clash as the Hikers managed only one goal through Latacea Chung in an otherwise fairly even duel between the sides.
Perennial favourite, the GCC Tigers finished a disappointing tournament with a quiet 7 – 8 loss to the Under-19 mix with the latter enjoying a 7 goal handicap.
The Tigers fought bravely and managed to score seven goals but a long strike from Robert Brumell left them a goal shy in the end. Tournament top scorer so far, Ashley DeGroot turned in another impressive offensive effort for the Tigers with 5 goals while Trisha Woodroffe and Tiffany Solomon mustered on each.
The Old Fort Shooting Stars seem to be aiming at the very top as they cruised to yet another victory, this time at the hands of the Pitbulls. Enjoying the competition’s largest goal advantage (+15), the Stars were able to once again deny the Pitbulls from closing the gap leaving the final outcome at 15 – 12. With the Pitbulls beginning on +6, the daunting task of nine goals proved too much for the young team and despite double strikes from Rosario Ramsammy and Lorenzo Vanzo and singles from Lennox Carroll and Eon Burke, their 12 goal haul would not be enough to see them advance to the semi-finals.
With few matches remaining, the PEPSI Hikers have already secured their place in the senior division final having all but one of their matches, failing to earn full points only in their 3-3 draw with GCC. GCC are the likely rivals to make the final but an upset in their final pool match against Saints could threaten that position.
In the junior division, Revelation were to face Saints in the first semi-final while the Old Fort Shooting Stars were come up against the Under-19 mix. The finals were played last evening.
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