St Benedict's College is the Fruta Under-13 Form One National InterCol champions.
They earned this title after beating East Mucurapo 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out after the game ended goalless at the end of regulation time at St Mary's College Ground in St Clair on Tuesday.
After a period of unconverted chances, the southerners went to the penalty spot and got goals from Malachai Webb, Darius Procupe and Josiah Ochoa to lead them to the win. The result means that St Benedict's have now won all their matches for the season, taking the south zone League title, U-13 knock-out title and the National InterCol title.
Coach Nolan Bernard said he was elated. "I felt proud of the boys who have responded to the training and coaching, and I have to say thanks also to the principal who supported the development programme. There was also tremendous support coming from the parents," Bernard said.
He said his hope now is to try and keep the players together and keep them grounded for the future.
The lone East Mucurapo item came from their prolific striker Isaiah Thomas, the scorer of many of the team's goals for the season. Afterwards, team manager Vanessa Griffith said she was extremely pleased with her team, having won the North Zone title and placing second in both the knock-out and National InterCol final.
Flawless Benedict’s lift Fruta U-13 crown.
By Andrew Gioannetti (Newsday).
Head coach credits squad’s discipline, parental support…
ST BENEDICT’S College capped a practically faultless season, on Tuesday, as they secured a nail-biting victory from the penalty spot over East Mucurapo Secondary in the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Fruta Under-13 Intercol final.
St Benedict’s, winners of the South Zone league and knock-out competitions, held their nerve in the shoot-out to win 3-1, following a goalless stalemate.
Josiah Ochoa, Darius Procope and St Benedict’s leading goal-scorer, Malachi Webb, all converted their efforts, helping St Benedict’s seal their second successive win via penalty kicks.
It was far from the action-packed semi-finals which played out on Saturday. Opportunities were scarce and players visibly cautious in defence.
A proud head coach Nolan Bernard celebrated with the parents, guardians and players after the match and said his charges’ discipline and overall effort this season well and truly paid off.
“I’m proud. They’re making the school, staff and their parents proud,” said Bernard, a past student of the school.
“Parental support was key (to the team’s success this year). Support of the (acting) principal, putting things in place for the team, visiting every match, every training,” said Bernard. “He supports the football programme 100 per cent, from top to bottom. He is a big part of the team’s success.”
There is no shortage of talent in the team, Bernard added, and, having been in solid training since July, the result is fitting yet not unexpected.
The Under-13s (Form Ones) played undefeated in all competitions but were not the only football team to make St Benedict’s proud this season.
Their respective St Benedict’s teams reached all the way to the semifinals in both the Malta 14-and-under and 16-and-under national competitions.
Newsday also spoke with the school’s principal Gregory Quan Kep, who beamed with pride.
“This is a great team. This means a lot to us,” he said, adding that it augers well for the future of the school’s football programme, as the younger boys climb the age division ranks.
“We have good talent. And we have to hold on to them.”
He agreed that the players can take most of the credit but said the football staff and parents deserve similar praise for their efforts. “The players took instructions well and there was good camaraderie. Even the parents, there was good teamwork among them.
For East Mucurapo, it was anticlimactic. They, too, were solid defensively, but perhaps overcautious in their anticipation of St Benedict’s attacking potential.
They enjoyed a positive campaign, losing only two matches in all competitions. East Mucurapo were successful on Saturday and advanced to Tuesday’s final after defeating Trinity College East on penalty kicks after a 3-3 draw at full time.