On Sunday, Aug. 28 at the Thomas Jefferson High School field, fans were treated to arguably the best two games of the season as Team Grenada battled Team Jamaica and Team Antigua and Barbuda and Team Guyana fought for the right to play the 2016 NY Caribbean Cup 25th anniversary final.
Very early in the opening game the Spice Boyz made their intentions known as they roughed up the Reggae Boyz. It was obvious the Grenadians were trying to disrupt the Jamaicans free flowing passing game early and knock them off their game.
In the sixth minute, Denrun Frederick could have put the Spice Boyz ahead but failed to pounce on a ball mishandled by Jamaican goalkeeper Devon Haughton. About a minute after, Haughton again mishandled a shot inside the six-yard box but again recovered quickly to smother the ball and avert trouble.
While absorbing the punishment from the Spice Boyz, the Jamaicans were not to be dispelled and launched their own counter attacks and it was during one of these forays that Denzil “Harry” Watson was brought down and needed emergency medical attention. The game was held up for about 30 minutes while the referee awaited the arrival of EMS to attend to Harry.
Right after play resumed, Daemion Benjamin found an unmarked Dannie Shaw whose typical volley kick found its mark. Jamaica 1 Grenada 0.
Right after Shaw’s goal Haughton was called on once more to keep his sheet clean on a scorcher from Denron Frederick.
It was a bustling first half by both teams and the Spice Boys certainly had their chances to equalize but when the whistle sounded to the eventful first half the scoreboard read Jamaica 1 Grenada 0.
Team Grenada opened the second half kicking toward the Egan Street goal and on the hunt for the equalizer but it was Andre McFarlane who doubled the lead for the New York Reggae Boyz midway through the half. Goalkeeper Ken Searles blocked a shot from Dannie Shaw but the ball spun off the right post and fell in front of McFarlane who reacted well to boot the ball home under a severe tackle by Chevy Augustine. In fact, Mcfarlane ended in the back of the net with the ball.
That closed the scoring in the opener as the NY Reggae Boyz advanced to the Sept. 4 championship game.
The nightcap between Team Antigua and Barbuda and Team Guyana ended in a thrilling Penalty Shoot Out after eighty minutes of soccer. The game shortened because of the injury delay in game one.
Kicking toward the Flatlands goal Team Antigua and Barbuda opened the scoring through a gift goal when a Karanja Mack’s shot slid off the head of Roger Cambridge and over the head of goalkeeper Richard Reynolds who was off his line.
Shortly after that Tamarley Thomas got a golden opportunity to double the score for the Benna Boys but Richard Reynolds came up big and blocked the shot.
To be fair, and despite the dismissal of Karanja Mack for what the referee described as violent conduct, the Golden Jaguars of New York were having the better of play and got the equalizer through Devon Millington who pounced on a ball that trickled from a goal front melee.
With the minutes ticking toward half time Gregory Richardson was brought down just inside the eighteen yard box by Okeem Challenger and gave the official no alternative but to spot the ball. Up stepped Devon Millington to bury the penalty. Guyana 2 Antigua and Barbuda 1.
Twelve minutes into the second half, and down 1-2, the Benna Boys were awarded a free kick about thirty yards out. It seemed quite harmless where the ball was spotted when Okeem Challenger stepped up to take the shot. His shot just drifted inside the near post as goalkeeper Richard Reynolds made a vain attempt to get to the ball.
Following the equalizer, the temperature of the game increased markedly as both teams hunted for the winner. Credit however must go to the Benna Boys who were not over matched although playing with a man short for most of the game.
At the final whistle, the scores remained locked at two apiece, so PSO had to decide the 2016 New York Caribbean Cup finalist.
The scores were tied at three apiece after the mandatory first five kicks so the game went into sudden death in the waning light. Kimoi Alexander put the Benna Boys ahead 2-1 in sudden death when Roundel Hutson stepped up for his attempt. Pandemonium broke out among the Team Antigua and Barbuda team and faithful when Hutson’s shot was blocked by Richard Reynolds.
So after several years of being in the shadows, the Benna Boys are through to the New York Caribbean Cup Soccer Tournament finals for the first time in their history and have a date with the New York Jamaica Reggae Boyz on Sunday, Sept. 4.
Caribbean Cup Championship Day – Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016
2 pm – Third Place Game
Team Grenada vs Team Guyana
4:30 pm – Championship Game
Team Jamaica vs Team Antigua and Barbuda