Photo: Excelsior High captain Tarania Clarke receives the (ISSA)/Locker Room schoolgirl football trophy from Locker Room Marketing Executive after they defeated Lennon High 2-1 in the final at the Spanish Town Prison Oval on Tuesday.
Excelsior High school claimed their first Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/Locker Room schoolgirl football title since 2013 when they beat defending champions Lennon High 2-1 in the final played at the Spanish Town Prison Oval on Tuesday.
Second half goals from Chavelle Henry and captain Tarania Clarke had given Excelsior a comfortable 2-0 lead before Lennon captain Peterkaye Green pulled one back late on to make for a nervous ending to the contest.
It was a game of two evenly matched teams that were contesting their third consecutive final against each other.
Both teams probed each other early, but failed to create any real openings as both sets of defenders stood firm.
Kena Gordon was released down the left flank for Lennon but her dribble into the box produced no end product. Then Shania Harris picked out Chavelle Henry inside the box for Excelsior but her effort was quickly charged down by the Lennon defence.
Excelsior was finding room down the right side through the efforts of Jahmillia Ricketts but a looping cross from her was easily handled by Christine Graham in the Lennon goal.
Graham almost cost her team a goal late in the half when she ran under a long range free kick from Excelsior centre back Chrissann Roberts but she was bailed out by her captain who was alert enough to clear the ball off the line.
Moments later it was the time of Excelsior keeper Tiana Schroeter to come up with the goods as she pulled off a smart save, diving to her right to deny Dahlia Whyte’s glancing effort towards goal from a Christian Jones through pass. That was the last effort for either team in a keenly contested first half.
Excelsior came out a different team at the start of the second half, dominating in midfield and taking the game to the champions.
Veteran player Tateyana Pitter was at the centre of it all and her decisive passing combined with the skill and trickery of Henry had the Lennon defence in tatters. Henry, in particular, was a handful for the Clarendon based team as they struggled to cope with her turns on the ball. She had them chasing shadows down the right flank and they were forced to resort to frequent fouls to stop her.
Inevitably, Excelsior took the lead through the combination of Pitter and Henry in the 56th minute. A slide rule pass from Pitter to Henry cut open the Lennon defence and Henry’s first touch took her pass the lunge of Green before she fired home at the near post before Tarece Lawrence could make a tackle.
Green almost pulled her team level when she fired a free kick from long range but her shot was just high.
But the Mountain View Avenue based team was celebrating again thirteen minutes after they had taken the lead. Another good free kick from Roberts into the box was met by Clarke who had ghosted into the area unmarked to fire home from close range, making it 2-0 with eleven minutes left on the clock.
Green who had been finding her range with previous free kicks, finally hit the mark from another long range effort that flew into the roof of the net from 30 yards out, with only minute left to play.
Excelsior managed to see out the two minutes of added time to claim a deserved victory and vanquish the memories of the last two finals losses to Lennon in 2015 and 2016.
Excelsior coach Xavier Gilbert credited his players for the victory.
"The girls played according to instructions. We could have taken the lead in the first half but we didn't. In the second half we executed a lot better and hence we got a result I thought we deserved. I am happy for the girls who worked really hard this season."
An emotional Tateyana Pitter who was in second form when she won her first title at Excelsior told Yardie Sports, “I am very emotional, it has been a long time since we won, we worked hard for this, very hard.”
Currently in sixth form, Pitter who was obscure in the first half of the game said, “Coach told me to pick up my game at half time. He said this isn’t the Tateyana he knew. I responded as best as I possibly could and we went on to win the game.”
A supremely confident Chavelle Henry said, “When I received the pass I knew what I could do so I just put it in the back of the net. We were confident of winning the game, so we just followed the coach’s instruction and got the job done.”
Losing coach Dane Chambers was magnanimous in defeat. "It isn't fun to lose but we gave it our best shot. Excelsior did what we didn't do and that is to take their chances."