It takes courage, skill, determination and a bit of luck to win a football match. Naparima College did just that with a 4-3 penalty shootout victory over Carapichaima Secondary Comprehensive in the RBTT InterCol quarter-finals at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium yesterday.
But although "Naps" were put under late pressure, they had enough experience to turn the match their way, even after conceding a late equaliser in regulation time which, unsurprisingly, came from the head of Lougheed.
In the shootout, Michael Renaud calmly planted his spot kick past Naps goalie Curtis Julien.
But when Naparima skipper Sherrick Hilaire put his attempt at Andrew Marchan's net overbar, "Carps" could smell victory, perhaps almost taste it as well.
That advantage expired with defender Andre Mohammed's subsequent miss and Jayson Joseph's accurate strike for Naps.
After four kicks each, both teams were locked at three goals apiece, before midfielder Michael Quashie muffed his spot kick. Shahdon Winchester was not expected to miss his kick and he buried it past Marchan to send his team into the national semis.
Lesser-fancied Carapichaima, though, gave it all they had and it was nearly enough to take them past Naparima. Almost, but not quite.
The Central champs, who were unbeaten in their zone, went ahead as early as the third minute.
Naparima, without striker Nigel Wright--whose season was ruined last week with a broken leg sustained in the South InterCol final--took a while to settle and were caught napping.
After surviving a Lougheed header, Julien was caught out by Neil Woodruffe, who controlled a long ball neatly and fired past the onrushing goalie.
If Carps were harbouring thoughts of a half-time lead, they were way too early. Naparima found a way back through Isiah Thomas, who scrambled a Cory Cyrus free kick over the line in a battle with three defenders.
Naparima took control of the match from there and should have gone ahead, but Winchester missed and, just before the break, forced a brilliant one-handed save from Marchan. In between, he also hit the target, thwarted only by the off-side flag.
A wonderful strike from roughly 30 metres out gave Naps the lead for the first time in the 59th. Winchester caught Marchan unawares, finding him off his line with a blast that nestled sweetly into the left corner of the net.
Still, Carps' Warriors soldiered on and were repaid for their tenacity in the 85th, Mohammed providing the cross and Lougheed the header to keep his team in the match.
Lougheed stumbled throughout the remainder of the game with cramp but made it to the shootout, scoring his kick to contribute to his school's cause when they needed him most.
Naps were not made to pay for Amale Quashie's miss in extra time with an open goal at his mercy and prevailed on kicks from the penalty mark. But such a miss against St Augustine Secondary Comprehensive in Tuesday's semi-final may not go unpunished.
Also yesterday, Malick Secondary Comprehensive showed St Augustine Secondary Comprehensive they were not invincible when they edged the "Green Machine" 1-0 in the BGT&T Trinidad Girls InterCol final.
The Morvant-based team avenged a 2-0 defeat at the hands of St Augustine earlier this month and the win means they are the new Trinidad champs.
St Augustine won last year with a 2-0 triumph over Providence High School. Malick will now face Tobago champs Signal Hill next week to decide who will dethrone St Augustine as National InterCol winners.