By TENAJH SWEETING
With the soccer nationals looming in the background, the junior and senior teams sudden death playoffs kicked off yesterday for the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA).
Teams not only competed to punch their ticket to the soccer championships on Friday but also hoped to solidify their spot at next week’s Samuel P Haven Jr High School Soccer Nationals.
On the day, eight games were played across the two divisions which saw the HO Nash Lions, CH Reeves Raptors, CR Walker Knights, RM Bailey Pacers, SC McPherson Sharks, Government High School Magic and Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves.
The CR Walker Knights senior girls once again reigned supreme. The senior school has been impressive all year, most recently collecting their seventh straight victory at the GSSSA track and field championships, and the seniors girls’ volleyball championships.
The Knights have now asserted their dominance in soccer. The Lady Knights entered this year’s soccer playoffs with an unblemished record. On the year, the team has scored 39 goals in total with only one scored on them the entire season. The team continued to roll on as they defeated the fourth-seeded CI Gibson Rattlers 2-0.
In the matchup, the Knights got to work early as they secured their first goal off a ferocious kick to the back of the net by Shenell Stewart. With the Rattlers battling hard to get a goal on the board against the undefeated team, the Knights once again scored a goal, this time by Valtinique Simmons.
The Lady Knights narrowly got the ball past the opposing team’s goalkeeper to thwart their chances of a comeback and book their ticket to the championships on Friday.
Knights’ head coach Dan Weithtman talked about the team’s playoff win.
“It feels good the girls have worked hard, they are undefeated and have scored 39 goals this season which is astronomical for soccer so we are really proud of them and our defence has only let up one goal in the first five minutes of the first game,” the coach said.
He added that the team is looking forward to Friday’s championships and his message to the team is the same as always staying focused, and not taking any teams lightly. He believes that once his team sticks to the strategy, they will have a good chance.
In game two, the Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves fell to RM Bailey Pacers 1-0. The lone goal was scored by Pacers’ Janea Ariste.
She snuck past the Timberwolves defence and had a clear route to the net as the ball zipped past the opposing team’s goalkeeper.
The Timberwolves were unable to respond in the game. The Pacers will now look to take on the first-seeded CR Walker Knights this Friday.
Robert Johnson, head coach of the Pacers, said it felt unbelievable to get the win because they avenged an early season loss to the same team. He added that the team was hoping to match up against the Timberwolves and they stayed steady, focused and disciplined to get the win.
The coach said he feels confident about his team’s chances against the Knights after only losing 0-1 to the team earlier in the season.
Once the team stays focused and sticks with the team work, he will look forward to seeing where it takes them.
For the senior boys, the Knights team once again took care of business. The third-seeded team toppled the second-seeded Timberwolves in a matchup that ended 3-1. The Knights senior boys will now face off against the first-seeded Government High School Magic.
The Government High School secured their spot in the GSSSA soccer championships after closing out the Pacers’ senior boys 2-1.
The HO Nash Lions’ junior girls comfortably defeated the Timberwolves 2-0. The Timberwolves lost three out of their four playoff games in yesterday’s sudden death rounds.
The fourth-seeded Raptors’ junior girls came out on top against the first-seeded DW Davis Royals to upset the team 3-2 after penalties. The Raptors will now look to carry the momentum into Friday’s championship showdown against the Lions.
The first-seeded Sharks’ junior boys wrapped up the fourth-seeded LW Young Golden Eagles in a match that ended 3-1.
The top seed will now take on the junior boys of Anatol Rodgers on Friday.
The Timberwolves got their first playoff win of the day as their junior boys closed out the DW Davis Royals 2-0.
The GSSSA soccer championships will commence at 3:45pm at the Roscow A L Davies Field this Friday.