St. Ignatius Crowned Rally Champs

The Town Hall Field in West Bay came alive with youth football this past weekend with the 2007/2008 CUC Primary Football League’s Closing Rally taking centre stage and what a splendid day it was. This famous field, which once hosted the legendary West Bay team of the 1950s and 1960s West Bay United, along with West Bay Lions, Western Scholars and Traffic of the 1970s and 1980s, would now play host to Cayman’s future legends of the game.

With the unfortunate absence of three schools, the format for the day’s proceedings would be a round-robin stage with four groups of three teams followed by the knockout quarterfinals and semifinal stages, culminating with the third place game and the final.

With the round-robin stage staying true to plan, apart from John A. Cumber Primary’s defeat of newly crowned U11 Champions Cayman Prep, the quarterfinals were set with Red Bay Primary facing John A. Cumber Primary, Prospect Primary facing Grace Wesleyan, St. Ignatius facing Bodden Town Primary and Cayman International School facing Cayman Prep.

Playing the home team and against the home crowd in the quarterfinals, Red Bay Primary squeezed through 1-0 as did defending Rally Champions Prospect Primary over Grace Wesleyan by a similar scoreline. St. Ignatius triumphed 2-0 over an always gamey Bodden Town Primary and Cayman International School upset Cayman Prep on penalties.

Down to four teams, the semifinals were set with red Bay Primary playing Prospect Primary and St. Ignatius facing the upstart Cayman International School. For the past three week of the CUC Primary Football League playoffs, spectators were dazzled with wonderful football and excitement galore. This day would not disappoint.

The under-achieving Red Bayers could finally redeem themselves by defeating the energetic Prospect Primary. Only a week ago, the latter had suffered a demoralizing defeat at the hands of Cayman Prep in the U11 Champions Cup Final and were eager to win this final championship of the year. With only ten minutes per half, Prospect started quickly and starlet Leandro Powell opened the scoring for the boys in purple and yellow. Spurned on by their hungry fans, Red Bay equalized through Horvell Pusey late in the second half, and just when we anticipated a penalty shootout, disaster struck for the boys in maroon. Prospect’s David Wright refused to see his teams dream come to an end and his two goals in the final three minutes sent his team through and Red Bay Primary to the third-place game.

Although lacking in goals, the second semifinal was as hotly contested as the upstart Cayman International School were determined to silence the large St. Ignatius contingent with an upset. Cayman International put up a great fight and kept it close, but Asher Francis’ lone goal saw St. Ignatius through to the Finals and possible glory.

No strangers to finals and the pressure associated with it, St. Ignatius and Prospect Primary would meet once again to do battle. Twenty minutes remaining in the 2007/2008 Primary Football League season and both teams were determined to get their hands on a championship trophy. Only two weeks ago in the regular season playoffs, Prospect Primary ended St. Ignatius’ dream of a berth in the U11 Champions Cup Final, and only one week ago, Prospect Primary were denied the same U11 Champions Cup after coming up short in the final against Cayman Prep. You could say revenge was a factor for both teams.

With tensions mounting, St. Ignatius’ Zachary Scott brought the house down as he calmly side-stepped Prospect’s goalkeeper Shakur Welcome before coolly slotted home the opener for the St. Ignatius ‘massive’. As halftime loomed, the Rally trophies were brought out in preparation for the trophy presentation immediately following the game. As the trophies glistened in the setting sun, the St. Ignatius shouts of ‘that’s our trophy, that’s our trophy’ echoed around the

ground, but was it too soon? Almost immediately, Prospect’s hero Leandro Powell, equalized with a wonderful free kick and the St. Ignatius supporters were silent. With the dreaded penalties again looming and the loss to Cayman Prep on penalties last weekend still fresh in the minds of the Prospect youngsters, it was all or nothing as they went for the winner. As the minutes ticked away, St. Ignatius were gifted the chance to take the lead as they were awarded a free kick just outside the Prospect penalty area. Up stepped defender Taylor Bodden who unleashed a rocket which nestled untouched in the corner of goalkeeper Shakur Welcome’s net.

Pandemonium spread among the St. Ignatius faithful as they invaded the field and lifted their goal scoring hero to the skies. Once order was restored, there was still time for Prospect but it wasn’t to be. St. Ignatius held tight and defended their ground until the final whistle. A wave of St. Ignatius supporters engulfed their heroes, acknowledging their tremendous victory. For the second week running, Prospect again felt the sting of defeat but parents and supporters alike applauded their heroes’ commitment, bravery and fortitude.

St. Ignatius walked away with the 2007/2008 Closing Rally Cup, much to the delight of their fans. Although dealt a cruel blow for the second week in succession, Prospect Primary received their runners-up trophy with great dignity, reminiscent of their play throughout the season. Third place went to Cayman International School after their penalty shootout victory over Red Bay Primary, which was played prior to the Final.

An exceptional ending to a truly marvellous season. Congratulations to all the winning schools and to all the players who brought us memories we will relive over and over. To the coaches, parents and supporters, we applaud your commitment. Through thick and thin, the highs and the lows, the players always need your support. Special thanks to all the sponsors who supplied t-shirts to the various schools and to Progressive Distributors, who kept the players refreshed throughout the season, playoffs and the Rally. Thanks to organisers Ronnie Roach and Harcourt

Wason who have yet again orchestrated a successful Primary Football League season. Thanks to Gary Whittaker, Livingston Bailey and Eddie Solomon for giving up their Saturday mornings for the last three months to officiate games.