Photo: Excelsior High celebrate their back to back wins in the ISSA/Locker Room Sports schoolgirl football final at the Spanish Town Prison Oval on Monday.The Xavier Gilbert coached team has won the title a total of six times overall.
Excelsior High school inspired by a brace from Chavelle Henry and one each from captain Tarania Clarke and substitute Jahmillia Ricketts dismissed first time finalists Denham Town High 4-0 to retain their ISSA/Locker Room Sports schoolgirl football title at the Spanish Town Oval on Moday. It was the six hold on the trophy for the Mountain View Avenue based school who has been led to victory on all six occasions by Coach Xavier Gilbert.
It was an uninspired first half from the champions who appeared rushed and failed to play with the composure that they are known for. Christina Salmon stung the palms of Denham Town goalkeeper before a long range effort from Tateyana Pitter went just wide of the right upright. Denham Town were content to play on the counter and almost broke loose on a couple of occasions but were thwarted by the experienced Excelsior defence line.
Tariana Clarke broke the deadlock in the 25th minute when Shineka Powell failed to handle a long range free kick from half line that bounced just in front of here and rolled into the goal.
The last chance of the half fell to Chavelle Henry but her shot cannoned off the crossbar and behind for a goal kick.
Excelsior took the narrow 1-0 advantage into the break and reappeared a more purposeful bunch in the second half.
However, it was Denham Town that should have gotten the first goal of the second half. Christina Tulloch and Shanice Irons both had one on one opportunities against Tiana Schroeter but shot straight at the Excelsior goal keeper, from inside the area, on both occasions.
After two lucky escapes in quick succession, Excelsior got their act together and took control of the game. Henry got her first of the afternoon when she was left unmarked at the back post and headed home from a corner kick to make it 2-0 in the 64th minute.
Six minutes later, Henry put the game to bed with another back post header, this time from a free kick from Clarke.
The Excelsior fans were still cheering when Ricketts put the icing on the cake in the 73rd minute. She lashed home a fierce left footed shot, though a crowd of players and into the back of the net to complete the scoring in the game and put an exclamation point on her team’s championship win.
Henry was a happy camper at the end of the game.
“I feel really good because last year I got the MVP and this year I got the MVP again. This year I finished with 46 goals and missed the Golden Boot by one so I am a little disappointed by that but the trophy is going to stay at Excelsior forever,” she vowed.
“Everybody thought it was going to be an easy match so we came out and said easy win but at half time coach shouted at us and told us that we were not playing well and we came out in the second half and played our best.”
Tateyana Pitter who had suggested that it would have been an easy final for Excelsior ahead of the game admitted that a bit of overconfidence may have crept into the team
“Maybe it was a case of overconfidence because we didn’t settle in the game and we were rushing it too much. But at the half time we got the instructions from coach we did what we were told and it paid off in the end,” she admitted.
This win meant a lot to the sixth form student as it was her last competitive game for her school.
“It’s a good feeling to win back to back championships and this is my last year so it’s a wonderful feeling. I hope when I leave they keep on winning just the same,” Pitter said.
Pitter has played a total of six years for Excelsior winning the title on four occasions.
Coach Gilbert was pleased with the second half showing of his team after a lackluster first half.
“It is very special to defend the championship. From the outset I thought we had the quality players to defend it. I was very disappointed with the way we played in the first half, however we played a little bit better in the second half. I thought we were fortunate to be up a goal at half time but second half they showed a much better performance.
Like his players, Gilbert is coming back for more next season, at least.
“I think we have the unit to win at least three championships in a row. We have gotten two so far, so I am looking forward also to next season,” he warned.
Lennon High defeated St. Jago High 5-4 on penalties in the third place playoff after the teams had played out a 1-1 draw.