South completed a clean sweep of titles on Sunday, winning the inaugural Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) All-Star Game versus a North XI at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella. The South XI, captained by Shiva Boys’ Judah Garcia, prevailed 4-2 on penalties after the game had ended 1-1 in regulation time.
Shiva Boys goalkeeper, Denzil Smith, made two crucial saves in the shootout to win the All-Star MVP and ensure the trophy stayed in the south region. It was the third schools football title won by a south team this season, following Presentation College San Fernando’s victory in the SSFL Premier Division and Shiva Boys’ Intercol crown. The match was organised by former national player and ‘Field of Dreams’ television programme host, Steve David, along with ACTN ‘The Voice’.
South dominated possession from the opening whistle and Sherwin Noel sent an early warning shot just wide of the North XI post in the 5th minute. On the opposite end of the field, Renaldo Boyce of San Juan North, threw away a golden opportunity for North as he scuffed his shot wide after wonderful build-up play down the right flank.
South XI midfielder, Kierron Mason, then hit the post minutes later, from a shot at the edge of the area, as the score remained goalless after the half.
Boyce atoned for his earlier miss upon the resumption, drilling a low shot from inside the penalty area into the back of the net in the 50th minute. South coach Shawn Cooper, looking to erase the deficit, called Shiva Boys’ Quinn Rodney off the bench and the tricky winger immediately made an impact. Rodney, on a surging run inside the box in the 72nd, fed the ball to forward Junior Asson who skied his shot overbar. Rodney almost levelled the score soon after, firing into the side-netting after he was picked out on a diagonal cross from Josiah King.
Rodney and his Shiva Boys captain Garcia almost combined for a goal but again they failed to hit the target with Garcia this time the culprit. Rodney finally got the equaliser in the 85th minute as he found himself on the end of a ball played across the face of the goal and made no mistake with a clinical finish. With no extra time and penalties needed to decide the champion, Smith emerged the hero with two excellent stops.
Speaking to Newsday after the event, MVP Smith said, “The atmosphere here today was great as the opportunity to get called up to the All-Star team was very special. I would like to thank the team for never giving up and I am happy to win the Man-of-the-Match award...Sometimes it is hard knowing you’re the goalkeeper and the last line of defence, but at the same time, that is my job and I am thankful I executed my saves throughout the game and especially in the shootout.”