In emphatic fashion, Marian Academy fought off the test of St John the Baptist Primary on Saturday evening to clinch their first Girls U11 Pee-Wee football title.
The highly-anticipated final went down at the Ministry of Education (MoE) Ground, Carifesta Avenue, where two of the best talents in the competition, Skylar DeNobrega and Shemia Hing fought tooth and nail to lift their team to the championship.
The duo clashed on many occasions to make for an entertaining start to the final, however, 13 minutes into the game, DeNobrega took a right-footed shot from outside the box, which found the back of the net to give Marian the lead.
The score remained at 1-0 into the second half, where St John’s changed their tactics in pursuit of the equaliser. Eventually, it was the expected character in Hing, who dribbled through the field of Marian players and finished with a soft left-footed tap into the goal in the 23rd minute.
While all eyes were on the two front-runners to break the gridlock, it was eight-year-old Haley Haberkorn who scored the game winner.
Haberkorn was perfectly positioned in the box when a high pass came in from Captain DeNobrega. Haberkorn took the clear shot, escaping the hand of the keeper for Marian’s second goal in the 40th and sealed the 2-1 victory.
Following the game, Guyana Times Sport caught up with the final heroes DeNobrega and Haberkorn, who both expressed elation at being able to secure the win.
“I feel happy. We worked hard to come to the finals. At first, when we first came, we saw the sizes of the other players and we thought that they would beat us because of their size, but our coach reminded us that it’s not about size, it’s about the determination,” DeNobrega shared.
The Marian Academy Captain noted the sentimental value of the win, “Marian hasn’t won a final, they only got to the semifinals in 12 years and we’ve made it to the final for the first time in 12 years and we treasure this because we never know when this will happen again.”
On the other hand, Haberkorn said, “I felt really happy, I never knew I would actually score a goal, but I did it and my coach was encouraging me from the start to score a goal. He helped us through it. He did everything he could.”
Meanwhile, North Georgetown Primary secured the third-place prize, defeating West Ruimveldt Primary 5-2 on kicks from the penalty mark. Their game ended in a deadlock after regulation time.
For individual prizes, Marian’s Troy Wright was adjudged Best Coach while Marian Academy’s Zoe was the best goalkeeper. The highest goal-scorer prize also went the way of Marian Academy as Skylar DeNobrega netted a whopping 10 goals across the competition. St John the Baptist’s Shemia Hing was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Marian Academy walked away with a $150,000 grand prize for a school project, accompanied by a $100,000 voucher from MVP Sports. Runner- ups St John the Baptist secured the $100,000 second prize and a voucher. The third and fourth-place finishers North Georgetown and West Ruimveldt pocketed $75,000 and $50,000 along with vouchers from the title sponsors. Each individual prize was also accompanied by a voucher.