Benna Boys, Spice Boys in semi-finals

Djhal Kelly #10 (St. Kitts & Nevis) and Josh Charles #16 (Grenada) battle for the ball.
Keith Dawson

The 2016 New York Caribbean Cup soccer championship continued last Sunday with Team Antigua and Barbuda defeating Team St. Kitts and Nevis 4-1 and Spice Boys defeating Team St. Kitts and Nevis 5-4. And for the first time this 25th anniversary season, the referees were forced to stop the games midway through each half to take water breaks.

After 35 minutes of action, the scores remained locked at zero when the Lucians broke the dead lock from a free kick. Kicking towards the Flatlands goal, the referee awarded St. Lucia a free kick just outside the 18-yard box. Leigh Marcellin found Thurston Joseph in the heart of the Benna Boys defense and was able to drive the ball home.

It did not take long for the Benna Boys to respond by way of an Okeem Challenger free kick that somehow sneaked through the Lucian defense and eluded goalkeeper Chad Amari Phillip.

Perhaps attributed to the hot and humid conditions but Team Antigua and Barbuda played rather subdued this afternoon. Not their hustling, hard talking game we’ve become accustomed to this season. Anyway there was no further scoring as the teams went to the break tied at one apiece.

Right after the whistle to kick off the second half, Leigh Marcellin committed the unthinkable. He was called for a dangerous tackle and without hesitation was immediately red-carded by the referee.

Team St. Lucia paid almost immediately for Marcellin’s indiscretion when Eugene Kirwan picked up a long ball down the right side and his cross over the middle found the head of Peter Byers to give Team Antigua and Barbuda a 2-1 advantage.

Shortly after, Kirwan got the first of his two goals when he turned inside on defender Kerwin Edwin and his left-footed shot had Phillip beaten all ends up.

Goal number four for the Benna Boys and the second for Kirwan occurred when Phillip illegally handled a ball inside the six-yard box and Kirwan scored on the resulting indirect kick.

The Benna Boys will now face the winner of next week’s Team Haiti vs Team Guyana quarter final in the Aug. 28, 2016 semi-final.

The excitement in game two between Team Grenada and Team St. Kitts and Nevis did not really take place until the dreaded penalty shootout.

Both teams actually came close to scoring on several occasions during the 90 minutes of regular time but at the final whistle, the scores remained tied 0-0.

On the very first shot in the ‘Penalty Shootout’ Spice Boys goalkeeper Ken Searles came up big by saving Aiden Nurse’s penalty kick.

Things really got tense with the shootout tied at three apiece. Up stepped goalkeeper Ken Searles for Team Grenada’s fourth penalty kick. However, Kittishian goalkeeper Malik Liburd would not be embarrassed by his opposite number and blocked the shot to keep the PK level.

After the regulation five shots, the shootout was tied 4-4, so the contest went into sudden death shootout. With sudden death locked at two apiece, Spice Boys goalkeeper Ken Searles came up big once more by blocking Devonte Fahie’s shot. That meant if Team Grenada scored their next penalty shot they would be in the Aug. 28 semifinals. Up stepped Raymond Alleyne calmly to bury the shot to send the Spice Boys to the semifinals.

The Spice Boys will face the winner of the Team Panama vs Team Jamaica quarter final in the semi-final.

Karanja Mack #4 (Antigua & Barbuda) attacks Gerassimos Magoulas #16 (St. Lucia) for the ball.
Keith Dawson

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