STATHS maintained their unbeaten run in all competitions this season after a clash against Holy Trinity High School in the Walker Cup yesterday at the Constant Spring Football Complex. It was an epic battle between two schools which have shown resilience and determination so far throughout the schoolboy season and it lived up to its lofty expectation.

It was Holy Trinity who brought the fight to STATHS early on in the encounter. They quickly settled into their game with neat passes and decent spells of possession, which, for the most part, had STATHS burdening their back foot.

In the 21st minute, STATHS made a risky gamble by throwing many numbers forward, thus played with a high backline. As they made their way forward Trinity seemingly sniffed their blood like a ruthless shoal fueled by hunger. They quickly broke up the play and handed the dagger (ball) to the clever maestro, Roy Evelyn, who floated a delightful aerial through-ball from the centre circle in search of Dillion McEnnis. McEnnis bullied his way past two defenders like a hare blazing past two turtles, to cushion the ball in his instep like a shot-put unto the softest pillow. The defenders left hopelessly his wake, could not recover. Goalkeeper Jeadine White came rushing off his line, but McEnnis feinted to his right leaving him flat on his belly. White grasped frenetically but only ended up with fists full of air as McEnnis skillfully hooked the ball away from his reach and walked it into the empty goal. The masterpiece from McEnnis released rapturous cheers and applause from the supporters as they hollered “GOAL!” and laughed mockingly at the STATHS defense.

STATHS got their best opportunity to draw level as Armani Reid dismissed two Holy Trinity defenders close to the left corner flag and squared the ball across the 18-yard box. The cross was met with a vicious goal-bound volley from the left foot of John Henry, who was unmarked. Every onlooker’s breath was laden with a mouthful of “goal”. Some could not resist the urge of letting out the shout, but the well-positioned goalkeeper parried the shot which was obviously too hot to handle. The first half ended 1-0 in favour of Holy Trinity.

The second half started off so dully, it was like watching paint dry. However, the slower pace suited Holy Trinity, who now controlled the tempo of the game. They had truckloads of possession and seemingly tried to lull the STATHS unit to sleep with continuous hypnotic passing.

STATHS, seemingly recognizing their lack of attacking prowess and creativity, subbed in Tajay Watson. Watson made his presence known immediately by getting unto the ball quickly. He made some really accurate and incisive passes but was rather speculative in his shooting. The injection of the attacker slightly shifted the momentum in STATHS favour. John Henry made light weight of a Trinity defender and played a spectacular ball in the crowded box to pick out Jevoney Johnson, who towered over the defenders and headed it past Antonio Millington. STATHS were jubilant, but the linesman nonchalantly held up his flag to signal offside. The STATHS contingent was left gutted, as that would have been the equalizing goal.

But they were not disheartened. They began to build even more momentum towards to latter stages of the match. They even got 2 glorious chances which were surprisingly miscued. On both occasions, the goal was gaping, just begging to be filled as the STATHS attack began to find huge loopholes in the Trinity defense. STATHS were seemingly anxious and angered by their predicament and began to pepper the Trinity defense in the precious area of real estate in and around the 18-yard box. This, however, was to no avail.

In the 94th minute just as the fat lady was holding the mike to her mouth, STATHS won a corner kick. Shamir Gibbs floated it over the defense, a seemingly nonchalant goalkeeper and towards the far post. Trinity must have thought the ball was over-hit. However, game changer, Tajay Watson was apparently listening to Sizzla Kalonji, rose to the occasion and flicked his head into the ball, sending it flying into the back of the net. The lifeless Constant Spring grounds suddenly sprung back into life as the supporters erupted with cheers and drum beats. The header was a classic example of a super sub. Seconds later The game referee signaled full-time. This, of course, sent the game into extra time.

In the first half of extra time, STATHS maintained the momentum they gained from their equalizing goal. Unfortunately, though, Shamir Gibbs was given marching orders by the man in the middle. STATHS had won a free kick deep in the Trinity defensive third and he, according to the referee, took the free kick before the whistle. This left STATHS a man down, but they were not dismayed. They kept on fighting as if they had the man advantage. In fact, they got a glorious chance to go ahead but their clinical deficiency in front of goal haunted them once again, just before the referee whistled for the end of extra time.

It was then now left to the dreaded penalty kicks to decide the match. STATHS managed to put away 4 of their spot kicks. Trinity was not so fortunate though, as Jeadine White parried one shot away from his goal and unto the right upright post. Trinity’s final shot aiming for top right corner chinked off the crossbar and went into orbit. As the ball sailed away STATHS celebrated wildly as they won 3-4 on penalties.

This gave them the opportunity to face Kingston College in one of the semifinals. KC, later that evening beat George’s 2-1 in another thrilling encounter at the Stadium East field. Jamaica College also dispatched St. Catherine High 3-1 and will face the winner of the Bridgeport vs. Calabar quarter-final. The semi-finals will be played on Saturday, November 4.

 Alex Bent
Article by Alex Bent