Their first stint on an artificial indoor surface has gone well for the Guyanese developmental hockey team, who looked promising in the Ventures International Indoor Tournament.
The Guyanese side asserted their dominance in Trinidad and Tobago over the weekend with wins which propelled the Pan Am 2020 hopefuls into the semi-final of the competition.
The local boys found themselves pitted against Queen’s Park II in their group match. The first ten minutes of the encounter were indeed tense until the ice was broken by Omar Hopkinson in the 11th minute.
An aggressive front put up by the Guyanese led to a pressured Queen’s Park team. Warren Williams capitalised twice with back-to-back goals in the 16th and 25th minutes. Four minutes later, Shane Samuels converted a penalty corner for Queen’s Park’s first goal.
However, any hope of a QP comeback was quickly extinguished by Shakeem Fausette and Nandalall Persaud in the 29th and 30th minutes respectively for a 5-1 Supernova win.
The Guyanese were up against much stronger opponents in their other game against Fatima. Nevertheless, a display of skill by Fausette and Jamarj Assanah led to a 2-0 lead by the fourth minute. Fatima replied minutes later, but it was not enough to match Guyana’s dominance, as Kareem McKenzie and Assanah struck again to put Guyana up 4-1 by the half. Goalkeeper Paul D’Andrade was made to work in the second half, which led to Supernova’s 5-2 win.
After their 5-1 win over Queen’s Park II and the 5-2 thumping of Fatima, the Guyanese boys stormed into the semi-finals of the Ventures International Indoor Tournament with their confidence at an all-time high.
However, the Supernova team were not prepared for the last-minute stunner that would deny them entry into the final of the Trinidadian competition.
An even first half saw Shomere Garnett putting Supernova into the lead in the seventh minute against the TT Defence Force before Marcus James equalised in the 14th. Williams opened the second half with a goal for Supernova. An important goal by Garnett was disallowed minutes later, leaving Supernova with just a narrow lead. In the final two minutes, TTDF pulled their goalkeeper and added an extra outfield player. This tactic worked to perfection when Shane Leggerton scored in the final minute and Nicholas Wren converted a penalty corner with no time left on the clock to give the defence men the 3-2 win.
The third-place playoff against the Paragon team saw Guyana lagging behind at the half 3-1. Guyana were up first, but Trinidadian national player Akim Toussaint responded one minute later by converting a penalty corner. Toussaint converted twice after to push the score to 3-1. The local boys found the motivation to fight back when Meshach Sargeant capitalised on a penalty for their second goal. However, Toussaint was there again to silence Supernova’s hopes with a goal. Left- back Kareem McKenzie continued fighting with a phenomenal overlapping run to finish with a reverse flick from the narrowest of angles for a goal. However, Supernova’s chances were crushed when Kelon Skerrit netted a fifth goal for the victorious Trinidadian side.
Despite missing out on the podium by a narrow margin, the Guyanese developmental hockey team’s first stint on an artificial indoor surface has ended well. In reflecting on the Under-19 team’s performance, Coach Robert Fernandes stated: “Although it was disappointing to lose in the fashion that we did in the semi-final, it’s important to keep things in perspective, 11 of these players are 19 or under playing against Trinidad’s best senior club sides. The TTDF team is loaded with current and former national players and for these boys to be that competitive against such a strong team is way beyond our pre-tour expectations. I’m really proud of their performance to date; we’re learning with every match and we get to do it all over again in four days’ time when the UWI tournament starts.”
The University of the West Indies (UWI) Indoor championship will run from January 10-13, 2019.