Presentation College (San Fernando) ensured a double-haul for the South zone schools in the Coca-Cola national intercol finals on Thursday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo, as they got an exciting 7-6 win from the penalty spot over St Anthony’s College following a goalless stalemate in regular time.
Presentation, who previously tasted national Intercol success in 1975 and 2019, had their experienced skipper and goalkeeper Kanye Lazarus to thank for their shootout win as the custodian made two fine saves to defy the Westmoorings Tigers from the penalty mark. Lazarus, who was on the substitutes' bench when Presentation beat San Juan North Secondary in the 2019 Intercol final, stole the show as he also made a huge penalty save during regular time to keep his school in the hunt.
In the shootout, Presentation led 3-2 after three sets of kicks. However, after consecutive misses by substitute Chaz Forde and Duhrell Young, the scores were level at 3-3 as St Anthony’s were presented with the chance to win the match with their fifth kick. Lazarus rose to the occasion though, as he dived to his left to palm away an effort by St Anthony’s right back Daniel Rose.
In sudden-death kicks, both teams initially held their nerve to stretch the score to 6-6. Presentation defender Tyrel Pemberton scored to make it 7-6. Industrious St Anthony’s midfielder Amari Dunbar then sprayed his right-footed shot wide of the mark on the next kick to spark wild celebrations from Lazarus and the Presentation team.
The Shawn Cooper-coached Presentation team got a tight 1-0 win when the two teams met during the league campaign in October and the final followed suit.
The game was played with good intensity throughout, but neither team had sustained spells of quality in the final third to prise open the other's defence.
In a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, both teams relied on their individual attacking talent to try and bring home the coveted crown. Presentation banked on the pace and guile of their top-scorer Vaughn Clement, with St Anthony’s relying on the skillful Theo Crovador. The latter player was often watched by Presentation defenders Pemberton and Cody Cooper, who gave very little change to the opposition.
The best chance in open play arguably fell to Clement, who was presented with a wonderful opportunity in the 73rd minute following a mixup between St Anthony's central defenders Russell Francois and Jeremy Bobb. With the goal at his mercy, Clement was denied by an excellent point-blank save by Josiah Morris who sped off his line to thwart the Presentation attacker with his legs.
Before that though, in the 67th minute, St Anthony’s had the opportunity to decide the game through a penalty from Andell Fraser. However, the St Anthony’s forward saw his right-footed shot well-stopped by Lazarus who made a dive away to his right.
It would not be the final time Lazarus killed St Anthony’s joy.
The penalty decision itself was contentious, as Presentation defender Micah Brathwaite appeared to get all ball with his sliding tackle on Crovador in the area. Referee Crystal Sobers did not hesitate to point to the spot though. Lazarus' save ensured the game would not be decided in a controversial manner, with the lottery of the penalty shootout instead being the decider between the teams.
In the 82nd minute, a potential Presentation winner by Adah Barclay was ruled offside. Meanwhile, in the second minute of stoppage time, silky St Anthony’s midfielder Aalon Wilson-Wright sent a wicked free kick just wide of Lazarus' goal following a layoff from a teammate.
As it turned out, it took a great deal to beat Lazarus on the night, and his saves on Francois and Rose in the shootout went a long way in deciding the 2023 boys' national Intercol champions.
The "Pres Lions" have once again roared loudest in the Intercol competition and their 19-year-old captain Kanye Lazarus has risen as well.
For St Anthony’s College, their 11-year wait for a national intercol crown will be extended.