BRANDON SEMPER netted on the stroke of half-time to give San Juan North a 1-0 victory over Presentation San Fernando yesterday, and the 2016 Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Coca-Cola Boys Intercol crown.
Semper, a member of the national Under-17 team, slotted a left-footed shot beyond the reach of Presentation goalkeeper Jabari Gray to ensure victory for the Jerry Moe-coached squad.
To add drama to the proceedings, moments after referee Keillon Bacchus ended the game – sparking a pitch invasion by the San Juan supporters, an earthquake was felt at the venue.
The victorious players did not mind, but it would have surely been doubly worrisome for the Presentation squad, who dominated ball possession but were stymied by a rock-solid San Juan defence.
The game began at a frenetic pace, as both teams went tooth and nail for the opening goal. Semper and his opposing number 6, Matthew Joseph, received early bookings, ironically in the sixth minute, after a heated confrontation on the touchline.
Shortly afterwards, Semper got out of a crowd on the left byline and sent in a deep cross which was met by right-back Tyrell Cameron, but the defender’s header was saved by Gray.
A Presentation move had their boisterious fans on their feet, as striker James Lee Yaw met a ball from Darnel Hospedales and teed up Kareem Riley, who shot overbar with only the goalie Shawndell Byer to beat.
Stand-in captain and sturdy centre-back Kyle Thomas needed lengthy treatment for a head injury, but alarmingly the Presentation team showed little desire to attack the short-handed San Juan defence.
And Semper almost made Presentation pay for their complacent approach when he forced Gray to push a freekick overbar.
Semper made amends in the 45th, in a move started by Renaldo Boyce in the middle and continued by Tigana O’Brien on the left, who played in Semper in the penalty box. Semper evaded his marker and placed his left-footer beyond Gray’s left.
With Thomas doing yeoman service in the back, Presentation were forced to rely on half chances in the second half, while Gray was a virtual spectator in his area.
Omri Baird got a ball from fellow substitute Jarod Gordon but his header was saved by Byer, in the 76th minute.
And 10 minutes later, Riley pounced on a loose ball from deep but his shot went high and wide.
The SSFL Big Four tournament will now hold centre stage, with semi-final action on Friday and the final carded for Monday.
San Juan North coach Jerry Moe last evening lauded the support his team got during their successful campaign.
Moe, in a brief interview, commented, “I think it was a tremendous win, not just for the school but the supporters also. They supported us well, even when we weren’t doing too well in the (Premiership).
The guys stick with us – the Market Crew and the San Juan San Juan Crew. They stick with us through thick and thin. I think this win was as important for them as it was for us.” San Juan played most of the second half in a defensive mood, limiting Presentation to a handful of chances at goal.
Moe stated, “80 percent of the sessions were how well we wanted to defend and we worked on defensive work. It’s something we do on the training park.”