It was a 90-minute thriller over at the Roscow A.L. Davies Soccer Field on Saturday night as the Lyford Cay International School Dragons outlasted the C.R. Walker Knights, 5-4, in the final of the third edition of the Samuel P. Haven National High School Soccer Championships to repeat as boys champions.
In the girls’ division, the Lady Dragons made light work of the Tabernacle Baptist Academy Lady Falcons, downing them 6-1 to claim the girls title, in their first trip to the high school soccer nationals.
In the boys’ third place game, it was the Aquinas Aces winning over the Falcons, 5-2. Jordan Freemantle and Takeyo Poitier scored two goals each for the Aces. The other goal was scored by Rasean Rolle. Anthon Russell and Kianno Miller scored a goal each for the Falcons.
Winning the third place game in the girls’ division was the Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves. They defeated the C.R. Walker Lady Knights, 3-2, on penalties. That game was deadlocked at zero at the end of regulation. Lovena Exantus scored the winning penalty for the Lady Timberwolves in the penalty shootout.
Dragons 5, Knights 4
Lyford Cay Dragons’ defender William Raenden made use of the little space he had in the Knights goal as he hit a well-placed ball near post of the goal to close the door on the Knights in the 86th minute of the game. The Dragons went on to win a thriller over the C.R. Walker Knights, 5-4, on Saturday night.
Raenden, an eighth grader, scored his only goal of the night and the tournament on that shot. It came at the right time as he powered his team to victory.
“As a center-back and defender, I was hoping to put it on target so that my strikers could follow it up. For that to go in, it’s a dream come true,” he said.
Opening the scoring for both teams was the Dragons’ Oliver Townend, the hat-trick hero and Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament, just two minutes into the game. That caught the Knights by surprise, and they tried to regroup.
Townend’s teammate, Cameron Evans, broke away and scored a goal to put his team up 2-0 lead in the seventh minute of the game. It looked like they were about to steamroll the Knights.
Less than a minute later, the Knights finally found the breath they were looking for when Obrian Hinds put his name on the scoresheet. That pulled them to within one goal.
The game was physical, especially between the Knights’ defense and the Dragons’ forwards. It lacked nothing as both teams played like they wanted the championship.
The fans at the field enjoyed the high level of soccer as the Knights tried to gain control, and the Dragons looked to pull away from them.
The Knights soon struck again as their forward, Brandon Adderley, tied the game up at two. Adderley got the goal his team was looking for in the 32nd minute.
Townend scored his second goal a minute later as he found the space just behind the Dragons’ defensive line. He got his shirt held back but that did not stop him as he kicked the ball past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net to give his team a 3-2 lead going into the half.
At the half, both teams’ coaching staff were shouting tactics and words of encouragement at the players, knowing what was at stake.
The Knights came into this game as the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) runners-up, while the Dragons were the Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) champions.
Dion Desamours wasted no time in finding an equalizer as the second half got underway. The Dragons’ goalkeeper was being too aggressive on the ball and could not grip it. Desamours was in the right place at the right time and he tied the game at three from inside the six-yard box.
It was a tied game again at four as both teams battled. The Knights were relentless in ensuring that the Dragons do not open a wide gap as their girls did earlier in the evening against the Anatol Rodgers Lady Timberwolves.
Townend scored again in the 70th minute. It was his third goal of the game and fourth of the tournament. The Knights’ keeper had no shot of making the save. That goal gave the Dragons a 4-3 lead.
Less than a minute later, the Knights took another swing at the Dragons when team captain Mickendy Paul found the angle on the right side of the Dragons’ goal. A successful shot tied the game at four. He gave his team some motivation as they looked to take their first lead of the game.
The intensity began to pick up for both teams. The offense of both teams was playing well while the defense was poised and ready to defend. It looked like the game was going to be decided on penalty kicks.
Raenden picked the ball up at the half, dribbled it downfield and saw an opportunity. He became a legend at his school, scoring in the 86th minute.
The Knights looked dejected and tired as they could not chase anymore. They did not have an answer for Raenden’s goal as referee Dianne Ferreira-James blew the whistle to end the game just moments later.
A relieved Craig Massey, head coach of the Lyford Cay Dragons, said: “I think this was a fitting final for the top two teams in the country. C.R. Walker was superb. Both teams played excellent football – the speed and tempo did not drop the whole way through. The game could have gone either way and I was dreading the thought of penalties. One of our juniors came through with a fantastic finish at the end.”
Massey said that he told his team after the fifth goal to keep their head in the game and to stop celebrating because the Knights kept coming at them.
It was a strong year for the Dragons in sports as just last week Saturday they were the Bahamas Interschool Equestrian League Champions, won their first gold medal in the BAISS Track and Field Championships, and had student-athletes on the CARIFTA swim team.
They will be looking to three-peat next year, and other teams are already talking about dethroning them.
Lady Dragons 6, Lady Falcons 1
The Lyford Cay Lady Dragons played 80 minutes of poised, relaxed and patient football as they controlled the game.
Paige Smith, the leading goal scorer in the tournament, did a step-over dribble to confuse the defender before shooting the ball past the opposing goalkeeper to give the Lady Dragons a 1-0 lead over the Tabernacle Baptist Academy Falcons, and they never looked back.
The Lady Falcons looked a step or two slower than the Lady Dragons, who utilized the space on the field.
After putting pressure on the Lady Falcons’ defense, the Lady Dragons found the back of the net again, on Veronica Miranda’s shot. That put them up 2-0 in the 32nd minute of the game.
“We came in here not knowing anything. Playing a team from Grand Bahama, I did not know what to expect, but I guess the superior team won. They are a good team but our chemistry and connection is amazing and real. We had a good game,” said Miranda.
The score was 2-0 at the half.
The Lady Dragons came into the second half possessing the ball more and controlling the game with timely off-ball movement that led to a free-kick in the 51st minute.
Smith took the free-kick from almost 25 yards out. She took advantage of the Lady Falcons goalkeepers’ height. She got the ball over the wall and over the goalkeeper to give her team a comfortable 3-0 lead.
Miranda got her name on the scoresheet again when she scored nine minutes later. She received a rebounded ball and disposed of it at the back of the net to put her team ahead 4-0.
Smith completed a hat-trick five minutes later when she one-touched the ball to the left side of the goal. The Lady Falcons’ goalkeeper had no chance to stop the shot.
In the 73rd minute Smith scored her fourth goal of the game and seventh of the tournament to put her team up 6-0. A humble Smith spoke highly of her teammates afterwards.
“I know all the girls on my team and we have been playing for so long and have such good chemistry. We have come too far to just give up. We really pulled through and we played really well as a team,” Smith said.
Both she and Miranda said they were happy that the Lady Falcons got a goal to take back to Grand Bahama.
Janeka Edey scored the lone goal for the Lady Falcons in the 76th minute. It was her third goal of the tournament.
When the final whistle blew the Lady Dragons were the champions.
This is the Lady Dragons’ first time participating in the championships.
Head Coach of the Lady Dragons Annisa Albury said the game plan coming in was to play as a team.
“My girls can say it better than me. We have the same philosophy with our coaching staff as we do with the girls which is team effort. Every time you see us coaching there are three of us and we rotate. We each bring something different to the table like the girls each bring something different. The goal was to play as a team and they did exceptionally well,” Albury said.
Their youngest player of the team is just in the seventh grade and is a starter. Also, a number of the girls are in grade eight. There are one or two seniors. Albury is hoping to come back next year to defend their title.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism
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