The Sunday Football League came to a close for another season in dramatic fashion last weekend when the Cayman Physiotherapy Cup Final was decided on penalty kicks after Bounty Hunters and Harry’s FC were tied at regulation time, organizers said in a press release.
From the first whistle Bounty Hunters pushed Harry’s onto the back foot as they started at a blistering pace and came close to opening the scoring before managing to grab the first goal after just six minutes. The goal, a result of their attacking play, came as Matthew Moss-Solomon got the break of the ball to get in front of Harry’s goal and calmly slotted the ball past the keeper.
Hunters had an opportunity to double their lead when Heath Hellenberg broke the off-side trap with a solo run, and it looked as if he had scored, but the ball rebounded off the post and out to safety. After the first 20 minutes, Harry’s slowly began to get a foothold in the match as they started to keep more possession of the ball by stringing a few passes together.
From the start of the second half, Harry’s team set the tempo and applied prolonged pressure as they sought to find a way back into the match. However, despite having the territorial advantage, clear scoring opportunities were still at a premium, as the Hunters’ defense repelled the attacks. As the clock ticked slowly down, Harry’s team attacks became more frantic as they poured more players forward in search of an equalizing goal that would prolong the tie. As the game entered its final minute, it appeared that Bounty Hunters would hold on to their lead, but then suddenly, Harry’s midfielder Dexter Beckford produced a key strike from the edge of the box which flew past the Hunters keeper and into the net to dramatically tie the match at one apiece.
After the wild celebrations stopped, the game barely had time to restart before the referee blew the full-time whistle, signaling that penalty kicks would be required to settle the outcome.
The first spot kick in the shoot-out was a positive conversion from Hunters’ Ben Bates, followed successfully by Harry’s Jasmin Muratagic. This was followed by further successes from Hunters’ players Gearoid Magner and Heath Hellenberg, with Harry’s responding through converted kicks from Kris Pearson and Casey Santamaria. Then, each side missed their next respective spot kicks, which left only one kick each.
Robert “Bobby” Slipenko of Bounty Hunters made no mistake from 12 yards to put his side ahead 4-3, and Hunters’ goalkeeper Patrick Zuch became his side’s hero by diving full length to his right to spectacularly push Harry’s fifth penalty out to safety, thereby winning his team the cup.
This was Bounty Hunters’ first Sunday League trophy. Their player-coach Erol Babayigit said after the match, “We are very happy with the cup win. It was unfortunate to concede a goal in the last minute and having to go to a penalty shoot-out, but that made it a true final.”
He thanked “everyone participating in the Sunday League,” and added, “we are already looking forward to competing next season.”