By TENAJH SWEETING
Following a three-year hiatus, soccer finally returned to the field for the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) this year.
Yesterday at the Roscow A L Davies national soccer field, four new champions were crowned from the junior and senior divisions.
For the juniors, the HO Nash Lions toppled the CH Reeves Raptors.
Meanwhile, the junior boys of the Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves defeated the SC McPherson Sharks.
In the senior division, the CR Walker Lady Knights dominated the RM Bailey Pacers to claim the championship hardware.
The Government High School (GHS) Magic once again repeated as champions after claiming victory over the CR Walker Knights.
The CR Walker Lady Knights took down the RM Bailey Pacers behind a dominating solo performance by Valtinique Simmons.
The defensive effort of her teammates kept the RM Bailey Pacers scoreless while she used her offensive prowess to score 3-0.
In the first half, Simmons secured her first goal after a teammate misfired on an attempt to score.
However, the 10th grader followed behind and launched the ball to the back of the net.
In the second half, Simmons continued her pursuit of goals, this time on a ferocious kick from midfield to add another point to the team’s total.
After one of her teammates’ attempt at a goal was ruled offside, the girls’ national team member came right behind to add another goal of her own, making it her second hat trick in the last two days.
The team’s MVP Simmons said she came into the game to score another hat trick and was thankful to her teammates and coaches because without them they would not have been in this position to win the championship. For the senior boys, the GHS Magic wrapped up the CR Walker Knights 2-1.
The defending champions fell 0-1 in the first half following a goal by the Knights’ Kevin Thomas.
However, the team regrouped nicely, putting two goals on the board courtesy of Brian Baker and Wilder Petit Homme.
The latter also took home the MVP hardware for the championship team.
Melvin Miller, head coach of the Magic, talked about the team’s GSSSA win.
“This is awesome. We came out here and had little difficulties [at] first to get in it but we regrouped at the halftime and ironed out our kinks, went back out there and gave them the Magic,” Miller said.
He added that the team’s strategy in the second half was to tighten up in the midfield, press at them, and break through their defenses.
The junior girls of HO Nash thwarted the Raptors’ chance of another GSSSA sports win.
The Lions wrapped up the title chances of the Raptors after closing out the team 2-0.
Both of the team’s goals came in the second half, the first of which was scored by Zantè Ferguson.
An additional goal was scored by Evanice Sands. She was also awarded the Most Valuable Player (MVP) honours.
She said it felt good to win the MVP because soccer is not a sport she usually plays.
However, she decided to play because she wanted to do something for her school.
The young MVP also said she made it her goal to score because she didn’t want the team to win with only one point.
Lions head coach Cherlindria Thompson talked about the junior girls’ victory.
“They were more hungry in the second half because going into penalties sometimes is unsure so we wanted to finish it off in the second half and not go into penalties,” Thompson said. Overall, the head coach said the win was great and she was proud of the girls team.
For the junior boys, the fate of the Anatol Rodgers Timberwolves was a bit different. The newly-crowned junior boys champions battled in a competitive game with the Sharks. After two consecutive halves the game was tied 1-1 with one of the scores belonging to Arayshio Green. Following five penalty kicks, the Timberwolves scored 3-2 to claim the 2023 GSSSA junior boys soccer championship.
The MVP honors went to Arayshio Green.
He said it felt very good and his mindset was simply on winning the championship game and they got it done.
Cleon Carnegie, head coach of the Timberwolves, talked about the junior boys’ win.
“It was tough all along and SC McPherson is a good team but we planned specifically to prolong the game as far as possible because they beat us in the regular [season] 3-1,” the coach said.
He added they made their changes on the defensive end and midfield and were determined to push the game as long as they could even if it went into the penalty. He acknowledged it was a gamble by his team but told them to take deep breaths, keep believing, and just kick.
Next up for soccer is the 2023 Samuel P Haven Jr high schools soccer nationals’ semi finals on Friday at 4:30pm.