St Anthony's College conquered Shiva Boys Hindu College to reach tomorrow's Coca Cola national InterCol final at the Hasely Crawford Stadium yesterday, prevailing 4-3 on kicks from the penalty mark.
The "Tigers" of Westmoorings will now face St Augustine Secondary at the same venue for the coveted InterCol crown. Those teams last met in the 2010 "Big Five" final at the "Hasely Crawford", when St Augustine's "Green Machine" won a penalty shootout after coming from 2-0 down to equalise at 2-2.
And yesterday's encounter had shades of that game. The 2011 champions squandered a 1-0 lead—given them by Carlton Long— which they held for 71 minutes but lost through a defensive mix-up.
This time, they held their nerve despite missing from the spot through defender Jonathan Cruickshank with their second kick—saved by Shiva Boys goalie Qwesi Weston. But that was their only slip up. Shiva Boys right back Anderson Cornwall and skipper Dwight Pope both went for the middle of the goal only to be stopped by gleeful St Anthony's custodian Javon Sample to spark celebrations by St Anthony's and their supporters.
Shiva Boys tried hard in the second half, trailing 1-0. They threw everything at the Tigers. Midway through the period, they brought on substitute goalkeeper Shakeem Darius, and sent last stopper Pope and Weston up front to add some punch to their attack.
Playmaker Nathaniel Garcia tried, but failed to beat Sample time and again from free kicks outside the area, but apart from rocking the upright once, they never came close enough.
But in the final minute of the match, their chance would come and Weston took it, putting away the loose ball after Sample and a defender collided trying to collect a long overhead Shiva Boys pass. It upset coach Nigel Grosvenor, who would have seen his team cruising into the final.
In the end, Shiva Boys even put Weston back in goal for the penalty shootout, but unlike Saturday's South final against Presentation, they simply were not good enough from the spot.
From the first whistle it was apparent that Shiva Boys were up against it, and St Anthony's showed that in all areas but the goal mouth. They had a slim half-time lead to show for their troubles, but the advantage could have been two or three goals.
It was not that Shiva were out of the match by any means, but St Anthony's kept their possession well—unlike the South champions—and turned it into attack.
The Tigers had at least three chances before the opening goal. In the fourth minute, striker Adrian Millette came close in good space but was robbed after failing to fire. And Long's close range effort was too tame to trouble Kwesi Weston in the Shiva goal.
But Long finally got it right after a Shiva giveaway, danced through two defenders into the left penalty area and planted his right footer into the far post, beyond Weston's dive.
Shiva Boys played with more desperation after that, but their best chances came from distance. Nathaniel Garcia had two free kicks from beyond the penalty area sail just over, and Shavon Diaz also shot from outside. They were also caught offside too frequently to make an impact.
St Anthony's had two more chances before the break to add to the advantage, but they had a shout for penalty turned down in the 33rd minute, and Millette failed to find Trevin Latapy and then Long at the far post.
And despite the late drama, the Tigers held on to reach yet another final, where they will defend their InterCol crown.