National player Darren Cowie scored the crucial winning goal to ensure Notre Dame kept pace at the top of the Trinidad and Tobago Hockey Board (TTHB) Men’s Championship Division when the league leaders tackled third-placed and defending champions Petrotrin last Saturday at the National Hockey Centre in Tacargua.
It was a game immediately preceded by the QPCC/ Malvern match which the Parkites won 3-1 to jump to the top of the league. Nothing but a victory would help the Dames and they delivered in a close, competitive game, emerging triumphant with a 1-0 result through Cowie’s 25th minute strike. Notre Dame are now on 22 points from nine games with QPCC second on 21 from eight matches while Petrotrin remained third on 13 points from nine matches.
“QPCC are our closest challengers to the title and the earlier match saw them go top of the league, “ Cowie, the coach/player for Notre Dame, said after the match, “This probably put alot of pressure on the guys to perform causing us to have a slow start to the game versus Petrotrin”.
This even though Notre Dame enjoyed early possession without creating much chances. Instead it looked like the Oilmen would take the lead and the initiative of the game exemplified by the quick and nimble interplay between national strikers Atiba Whittington and Nicholas Grant who created a few problems for the Notre Dame defence, with Whittington squandering a scoring opportunity after quarter hour following a defensive lapse from the Dames. Whittington failed to shoot on target from within the D.
But that mistake sparked the Dames into a sharper passing game that national vice captain Dwain Quan Chan, at the heart of Petrotrin’s defence, hindered with crucial tackles and interceptions to prevent the Dames from getting any clear cut chances. That was until the breakthrough in the 25th minute.
Dames player coach and national captain Cowie started the attack down the right flank with an incisive pass to fellow national player Shaquille Daniel before darting diagonally into the Petrotrin area. Daniel fired off his tomahawk shot was that Petrotrin keeper Ron Alexander could only parry into the path of Cowie who pounced on the rebound with a tomahawk (reverse stick) shot of his own to get the go-ahead goal.
The second half presented more but not clear cut opportunities but nothing clear for both teams. But the defensive workrate of the Dames national midfielders Aidan De Gannes and Daniel, the Dames were able to hold on to the victory and a crucial three points.
“Every game from now will be like a final because any slip-up (by QPCC or Notre Dame) will give the other team an advantage. Even the scrappy wins will still count as three points so I am pretty happy at our position but I know we can’t rest on our laurels. With five games left and our last game of the league coming like a final (vs QPCC), the whole squad is upbeat on our chances. But we all know we need to take it one game at a time,’’ Cowie concluded.