The Domino’s Lynx are confident that a repeat championship is in their future.
After vanquishing old demons by defeating a familiar foe, thoughts within the Lynx center on back-to-back women’s flag football titles. For coach Renford Barnes, who runs the team alongside Oliver Parker, the offseason will be about gearing up for another long run.
“Like I told you before, they’re going to get tired of seeing our faces,” Barnes said. “Next year, we’re going to be right here again. I don’t see why not. I can promise you we’ll be right here again, especially because we have a good group of girls. They’re only going to get better.
“It means a lot to the girls. Like you said, going into the finals back-to-back and losing in consecutive years, it kind of felt like we couldn’t get that monkey off our shoulder. To pull it off is really big for the girls, it builds their confidence going into next year. I think they really needed it, they played hard all year, they played hard all through the playoffs and I think they deserved the win.”
Domino’s have the tools to be a force next year. Keisha Solomon has proven herself to be the top option at quarterback and boasts enough receiving options, from Lanie McLaughlin and Lilia Conolly to Anya Edun, to consistently steady the offense. While fiery, Danielle Connolly is the catalyst of a stout defense that features the likes of Roxanne Walton, Christina McLean and Brittany Borden.
The team’s confidence is sky-high after raising the 2014 Digicel Premier League trophy by defeating reigning champions Androgroup Killa-Panthers, 12-6, in overtime. Last Saturday’s contest, a rematch of the 2013 finals, was a defensive struggle that was 0-0 at the end of regulation before Becky Lucas of the Killa-Panthers and Christsania Parker and Sophia Dilbert of the Lynx found the end zone.
The victory capped a regular season, organized by the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association, that saw Dominos grab the top seed at 9-1-2 while Jennifer Cotarelo and Androgroup were second at 7-2-3.
Christsania Parker said beating the Killa-Panthers was redemption for her squad.
“I felt that it was a very tough game but our defense was on point with everything, every single thing,” Christsania Parker said. “We messed up one or two times but we picked up everything. Our offense was slow at first, but in overtime we just killed it. In my opinion, I think the refs were a bit biased but I mean we still beat it and overcame everything.
“I’m so proud of my teammates. I was injured, I hurt my shin, but I had to put that aside. I had to play hard for my team, any pain had to be put aside and I had to give my 110 percent for my team and that’s what I did.”
She added, “We defeated them during the season but last year, it had really [stung] us to lose against them. So this year, we were well prepared for them and it feels good, it feels excellent to beat them. Obviously, words were exchanged between the teams and that’s why emotions were high. At the end of the day, we won and we went and congratulated them. It was a tough game, they came to win but at the end of the day we won. All we had to do was shake hands and that’s what we did. We’re going to come out hard, we’re going to recruit. Every year, people come and go but the core is always there. I feel very confident.”
As Christsania Parker alluded to, there was an altercation after the contest involving both teams. While minor, and nothing new to local flag football, the dispute did taper celebrations for Domino’s.
Barnes was caught up in the clash, along with Killa-Panthers coach Chris Lucas, and said the row did not take away from the final result.
“I commend them, they’re a good team. They’re a hard team, no team would want to go up against them so I commend them for making it as far as the finals. They gave us a hard match, I think we went to triple overtime so again, hats off to them. The boil-over, again, it’s a sport and there are always going to be altercations and heated arguments – especially if you’re on the losing side of the ball.
“To me, it’s water under the bridge. It was a heated altercation, it’s gone, it’s done and again, I commend him (Chris Lucas) and I look forward to playing against the men next year. Congrats to the girls and everybody, the whole organization, for a good playoffs and a good finals.”
It should be noted that the Lynx’s championship happened just before the dms West Bay Hellcats claimed their eighth title in club history. With Barnes and Oliver Parker being Hellcat players, the Ed Bush field in West Bay was a sea of red as fans celebrated both triumphs. For Oliver Parker, who coached previous women’s champions the Wolverines, having a hand in the sport’s top teams is nothing new.
“It’s feels good. Two championships, the men and the women. It’s the second time we’ve done it,” he said. “The men, we always take care of business. My women’s team, they worked really, really hard this year. We prepared from the beginning, preseason, we worked hard throughout the summer. We practiced, we studied, we practiced, and it all showed up on the field. Our goal was to get the No. 1 seed and go into the playoffs and win the championship. That was always our goal from the beginning of the season and we accomplished that.”
He added, “Panthers are a tough team. We played them three times, all three games went to overtime. The two teams are very well coached, good players on both teams and it’s a tough fight, always with them.
“It’s bittersweet (for them). Last year, we lost to them and it was basically a replay of the finals from last year. We thought we should have had it last year. We didn’t play our best game, we came out focused this time to try and play much better and we did that.
“We’re going up. The team is prepared, the ladies are focused. We know the sour taste we had in our mouths last year. They trained hard this year, they came to practice, they played hard and they got the result.”