The Cayman Islands field hockey team once again undertook its annual visit to Kingston, Jamaica, last weekend and came away undefeated despite having to play three times on Saturday.
The Jamaican hosts, St. Andrew and Munro Hockey Clubs, arranged a packed day of hockey. In addition to Cayman’s three matches, there were two other games for young Kingston players.
The first match saw Cayman pitched against a Jamaican Invitational XI which included several full internationals.
Cayman, with a more settled lineup, took full advantage of their opponents’ lack of cohesiveness and stunned the opposition and the local supporters by scoring three times in the first 15 minutes.
Within five minutes Ian Rotsey had released Terry Choudhury on the left of the penalty area, and with the goalkeeper out of position Choudhury easily slipped the ball into the open goal. A second soon followed. Somewhat fortuitously, the ball having been crashed into the penalty area by Choudhury, deflected off Rotsey’s prone stick to loop over several players into the back of the net, the keeper once again out of position.
At this stage Cayman were rampant, with Jamaica overwhelmed, especially with Gareth Dixon and Ryan Williams dominating the midfield and Mark Williams menacing down the right flank.
The third goal resulted from an infringement in the penalty area – a penalty flick being awarded to Cayman which Dixon duly slotted home.
It should have been four shortly after with another penalty flick being awarded to Cayman, but this time Dixon sent the ball high and wide.
It was 3-nil until just before halftime when Howard Bingham received the ball alone in the penalty area and sent it swiftly into the roof of the net, bringing the score to 4-0.
Having addressed their organizational and positional issues, Jamaica threw everything at Cayman in the second half, and it was only tenacious defending from Nigel Bates, Wiekert Weber, captain Barry Craine and newcomer Kelly Pettit that kept Jamaica at bay.
In the last five minutes, Jamaica had the chance of grabbing a consolation goal, but such was their luck that a penalty flick – awarded after a Bates infringement – was squandered, with the ball pinging off the left post.
Although the second match between Cayman Mixed XI vs. Jamaica St. Andrews/Munro Mixed XI finished in a scoreless draw, it was anything but dull.
With the first match having taken so much out of the Cayman players under the blazing sun, it was little wonder that this was a very entertaining and open game.
Large spaces in the midfield allowed both sides plenty of room to pick out players with long passes. Cayman enjoyed the better of the chances and should have scored off a series of short corners, but unlike in the first game when everything went Cayman’s way, this time the ball simply would not go in – hitting the post twice.
There were several fantastic saves by the Jamaican keeper and several mis-hit shots.
The final game of the day was another mixed one, this time played for the Alex Horner Memorial Trophy – in honor and memory of Alex Horner, a very talented female hockey player and a prior tourist with the Cayman hockey team to Jamaica before sadly passing away in 2010.
The match was played with real tension as both teams always desperately want to win.
Having suffered a number of injuries and the squad depleted of female representation, Jamaica graciously offered Cayman a number of young women to assist the team. The game itself was incredibly competitive, and many of the key players had shining moments.
Gareth Dixon, who had been a colossus throughout the two previous games, put Cayman ahead in the ninth minute with an act of sublime skill. Wide on the left of the penalty area, Dixon performed a reverse stick cut to send the ball crashing into the back boards off the far post.
The Cayman supporters, led by chief cheerleader and official photographer Kirsty Fenner, erupted, realizing they had witnessed something very special.
The second player to shine was the sprightly veteran, Ivan Burges in goal. Time and again Burges kept Jamaica out, bravely saving off his chest and legs everything that Jamaica could throw at him.
Eventually though, Jamaica obtained a bit of deserved luck and managed to grab a goal through striker Audrey West.
With the match finishing tied at one apiece and both sides utterly shattered from the exertion and efforts running in the heat, it was decided to proceed straight to a penalty flick shoot-out.
Once again, man-of-the-match Burges was a hero for Cayman, saving Jamaica’s fourth penalty, leaving Mark Williams to seal victory for Cayman 4-3 and so retain the Alex Horner Memorial Trophy.