East Mucurapo goalkeeper Aaron Andrews was the hero for his school in Coca-Cola North zone intercol quarter-final action on Friday, as he saved two penalties in a tense shootout to grant his team a 4-3 win from the spot over St Mary's College, after a goalless stalemate.
Playing at Queen's Royal College (QRC) ground in St Clair, Mucurapo looked the likelier of the teams to break the deadlock in the second half, as they forced opposing goalie Tyrese Henry into a string of fine saves.
Flanker Zion Harley and the midfield pair of Atiba Khidr and Jadon McShine all gave solid performances in the second half, but couldn't beat Henry despite their best efforts. In the 78th minute, the St Mary's goalkeeper just about spared his blushes with a last-ditch save after spilling a deep free kick by McShine.
Crucially, Henry wasn't between the sticks in the shootout for St Mary's as he was substituted in the 90th minute by coach Michael Grayson, with the goalkeeper pointing to an apparent knee injury. Henry watched on in agony from the sidelines as Andrews and the Mucurapo youngsters held their nerve to book their spot through to the North zone semi-finals.
With the scores locked at 3-3 in the shootout, Andrews delivered the knockout punch for coach Dale Saunders and Mucurapo, as he emphatically stopped the efforts by Aadil Abdul-Hakeem and St Mary's captain Kyle Phillip to spark wild celebrations from his schoolmates. Nieem Taylor scored the clinching penalty for Mucurapo to set up a meeting with St Anthony's College in the North zone semi-finals.
The "Westmoorings Tigers" of St Anthony's fought off a feisty challenge from North zone championship division winners Blanchisseuse Secondary as they got a resounding 7-2 win in Mucurapo. The scores were tied 2-2 in the first half after a double by Blanchisseuse's Kirk Abraham, but St Anthony's were relentless in the second period as Andell Fraser scored a hat-trick and Theo Cravador netted a brace to secure the big win.
In Westmoorings, QRC set up a semi-final meeting with last year's national intercol winners Fatima College as they defeated Malick Secondary by a slender 2-1 margin. All three goals in the encounter were scored in the first half, with QRC's Micah Nelson scoring a double to send the "Royalians" through to the semis.
Fatima were made to sweat in their match up with Trinity College (Moka), but they saved their scoring for late in the contest as they ran away comfortable 5-0 victors. Trinity put up a resolute showing for most of the match, but their resilience was eventually broken in the 75th minute when Christian Bailey opened the scoring with a neat finish. The 2023 Secondary School Football League (SSFL) premier division champions then rained goals down at the Serpentine Road, St Clair venue, with three of their remaining goals coming in stoppage-time. Caden Trestrail helped himself to a brace in the frenetic stoppage-time period to send Fatima to the North semis. Fatima's clash with QRC will see last year's two North zone finalists doing battle one round earlier this time around.
At the Black Rock recreation ground in Tobago, there was penalty drama as Mason Hall Secondary edged Scarborough Secondary 5-4 on penalties after a 2-2 draw in regulation time. In the other game, Tobago's reigning intercol champions Signal Hill Secondary got a 3-1 win over Roxborough Secondary.
In the South zone quarter-finals, a whopping 27 goals were scored in the two matches as both Presentation College (San Fernando) and St Benedict's College hit double digits in emphatic victories over Siparia West Secondary and Point Fortin East Secondary respectively. Presentation were in a ruthless mood at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella, as they defeated Siparia West by a whopping 14-0 margin. Both Chaz Forde and TT youth attacker Vaughn Clement enjoyed themselves in front of goal as they scored six goals apiece.
At the Mahaica Oval in Point Fortin, Benedict's were also dominant as they earned a 12-1 win over Point Fortin East. Jeremiah Joseph led the way for the regining South zone intercol champions Benedict's with a hat-trick, with Joel Griffith scoring a double. The premier division's top scorer Malachi Webb also got on the scoresheet.
In the South semis, Benedict's will play Pleasantville, while Presentation will meet Naparima College in a fixture which has often been dubbed the local "El Clasico."
The girls intercol tournament will commence on Saturday, with quarter-final action in the respective zones.