Elite Sporting Club mathematically ensured they could not be overtaken by winning the Cayman Islands Premier League on Sunday, but they did not do it the way they really wanted, with a flourish.
For weeks the West Bayers were just waiting for confirmation as champs having gone all season undefeated in the league, but in their last two matches they lost so the crowning was delayed.
Storming to their second title in three seasons, Elite suffered their first setback against Scholars International, 4-1, two weeks ago.
They looked to get back on track on Sunday, but once again lost, to lowly Future 1-0, but because George Town also lost unexpectedly, 2-1 to Roma United, it meant Elite had an unassailable lead with three games remaining and 12 points ahead of GT.
Coach Gregory Ebanks could finally uncork the champagne.
Alex Belcher with 14 goals, Dwayne ‘Gaza’ Wright, 12, and Jairo Sanchez, 11, did the bulk of the scoring, but it was a marvellous collective effort that got them there.
Elite top the league with 42 points. They won it in the competition’s inaugural year two years ago, but were dethroned by West Bay rivals Scholars International last term which makes it all the more satisfying.
Coach Ebanks said: “I am extremely happy at this time the hard work and commitment placed in the programme has paid off significantly. When the competition started the objective was to maintain a good standing, play well and enjoy the competition. We thank God for this success and we are really happy with what we have accomplished this season.”
Ebanks added that the team will play just as hard in the remaining games and he will not allow them to relax.
The runaway champions lost to Future at the TE McField Centre with James Ebanks scoring in the 10th minute.
Roma’s goals against George Town came from Morris Brown and Nicardo Beckford while substitute Tex Whitelocke scored for George Town.
At the G Haig Bodden Sports Centre in Bodden Town, bottom of the table team East End United surprised Scholars International 1-0 with Carson Ebanks getting their goal. Bodden Town whipped Tigers 3-0 at the same venue.
Rashad Rankine, Kareem James and Denny Bailey hit the net.
The league takes a break this weekend for the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, before returning on Sunday 10 April.
George Town are second in the league with 30 points followed by Roma with 27. Scholars International are fourth with 26 points, Bodden Town have 25, then Future with 22, East End on 15 and Tigers at the bottom with 13.
The bottom club will be relegated and the team in seventh position will compete in a play-off against the second placed team in the Fosters First Division for a place in next season’s Premier League.