EMMANUEL John saved four penalties to claim victory for the North XI during yesterday's Field of Dreams/SSFL All-Star Game at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella. The San Juan North goalkeeper propelled his zone to a 2-0 victory over the South XI in another thrilling penalty shootout to end the 2018 season.
Despite South substitute goalkeeper, Jabari Gary, getting his hands on two of the four penalty shots he faced, the northerners' goalie performed even better to help his team claim bragging rights.
In the early minutes of the game which was viewed by foreign scouts, Kyle Thomas stung the hands of South goalie Levi Fernandez from a free-kick. Fernandez was later tested again from a similar distance by Thomas, but the goalkeeper from Naparima College held on to the shot. MVP of the match, Mark Ramdeen, then tried his luck from a free-kick in the 28th minute but he directed it straight at John.
The first half ended 0-0, but the second period started much different as Ramdeen made the most of his opponent's flat footed defence to go 1-0 up. Ramdeen, in the 46th minute, slotted a through pass into the back of the net to put South ahead.
Nathaniel Perouse had a go in the 56th minute for the South XI but his shot went well wide of the target. The Northern side had an opportunity from a counterattack moments later but were unable to make it count. North's Halie Beckles then shocked the crowed with a stunning strike in the 71st minute to knot the score. Five minutes later, Ronaldo Boyce could have given North the advantage when Tyrique Sutherland found him at the back-post with a superb cross, but the striker's header flew inches over the crossbar.
Luke Darwent had his opportunity to seal the victory for North in the 82nd minute, however, South XI's reserved goalkeeper, Jabary Gray, saved the attempt. Two minutes later Beckles should have scored his second goal of the game but once more the chance went begging after he pulled his shot wide of the upright as penalties were needed to decide the winner.
In the girls All-Star game, it was the South XI who walked away victorious after they defeated their opponents 1-0 in the first match of the doubleheader. La Toya Cayenne scored in the 68th minute, making no mistake to find the back of the net when Crissy Mitchell found her in the box.
The first half had ended 0-0 despite MVP Afiyah Cornwall bossing proceedings. Felicia King could have levelled the score in the 72nd minute for the North but South's substitute goalkeeper, Akyla Walcott, kept her side in the lead by saving her two close range attempts. King then tried her luck from distance but the ball did not dip in time as the attempt whistled past the crossbar.
In the 87th minute, Alexcia Ali had an opportunity to double the lead for South when she controlled the ball, only to sky her attempt.