Excelsior, Alpha capture ISSA hockey titles

Observer writer

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

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EXCELSIOR High and Alpha Academy captured the 2018 Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/Jamaica Hockey Federation (JHF) Under-19 League titles played at the JN Astro Turf in Mona last Friday.

Excelsior defeated Denbigh 3-1 on penalties through goals from Christopher Reid, Kevon Reid and Shemar Gordon in the Under-19 boys' final. Richards Piper replied for Denbigh.

In the girls' equivalent final, Alpha beat Merl Grove 2-1 on penalties. Tattiann Cunningham and Natalie Lewis scored for Alpha, while Tami-Ann Ashmeade was the lone scorer for Merl Grove. Alpha missed three of their penalties with Merl Grove failing with four penalties.

Winning coach of Excelsior, Carla Hewitt, said she was very elated with her team's first title triumph. “We were beaten 1-0 by Munro College in last year's final, and we knocked them out 4-0 in the semi-finals.

“Excelsior has won the Under-16 and Under-14 Leagues, but has never won the Under-19, and winning this time around, the players feel very happy,” she said.

She added: “The players played really hard for the title and they were always confident of winning. Denbigh is an excellent team and they gave us a good fight.”

Meanwhile, losing coach Christine Bartley of Denbigh congratulated Excelsior for their victory.

“The players along with myself are a bit disappointed, as when you go into a final you always have the intention of winning. This, however, is the first time Denbigh has reached the final in only their fourth year in the competition, and that shows how much our programme has been working,” Bartley said.

Bartley admitted that Excelsior were the more experienced team, but said it was a very close and exciting game. “The players played extremely well only to lose on penalties.”

Alpha's coach Kirk King said it was a good victory with Merl Grove having more possession of the ball, but his team had better and more opportunities to score.

“I knew that when it came down to penalties, Alpha had a very good chance of winning, as they have a very good goalkeeper who can deny Merl Grove from scoring. We are now looking towards the Under-16 League and Merl Grove should be the favourites, as most of their players are young and will be playing,” King said.

Meanwhile, in the third place play-off Mona High beat Immaculate Conception High 2-0 on penalties after they had played to a 0-0 draw during regulation time.

Kingston College were awarded third place by a 5-0 margin over dethroned champions Munro College who did not show due to disciplinary reason taken by the school.

In the boys' semi-finals played last Wednesday, Excelsior defeated Munro College 4-0, while Denbigh clipped Kingston College 1-0.

The girls' semi-finals saw Alpha Academy defeating defending champions Mona High 3-1, while Merl Grove beat Immaculate Conception 2-0 after they had played to a 0-0 draw at full time.

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