The Cayman Islands Under 15 Boys’ National Football finished undefeated in the 2017 CONCACAF Under-15 Boys Championships with a 2-0 shutout of Antigua and Barbuda on Friday at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
“Brimming with confidence after dispatching Aruba, Bonaire and Saint Martin, the local boys were certainly aware that Antigua & Barbuda would present a much tougher challenge,” a press release states.
Antigua and Barbuda had advanced to meet the Cayman Islands after dispatching the three countries in their opening group.
In the fifth minute of Friday’s game, Jahmai Griffiths received a perfectly flighted over-the-top pass from Barry-Dre Tibbetts. Griffiths settled the ball onto his favorite right foot, drove at the defense and unleashed a low, hard drive that left the Antiguan goalkeeper with no chance.
With the early lead, the local boys maintained the upper hand with some slick passing and possession. Antigua had no other option than to chase the ball, the press release states.
The Cayman Islands’ domination of the first half showed in the stats – 13 shots at goal with nine on target. This paid off in the 30th minute as Jahmai Griffiths grabbed his and his team’s second goal of the day.
Working the ball down the left flank, Gunnar Studenhofft drove to the endline and sent the ball into the Antiguan penalty area, ultimately eluding all the defenders but finding his right winger, Griffiths. Griffiths met Studenhofft’s shot perfectly and sent it soaring into the upper corner of the net to extend the Cayman lead.
“Antigua was in total disarray and were rescued from further damage by the halftime whistle,” the press release states.
Cayman started the second half slowly as Antigua pressed for a goal. Cayman’s goalkeeper Theo Whiteside was called into action in the 37th minute, when he rushed out and thwarted an Antiguan attack.
Antigua’s persistence paid off in the 40th minute when Cayman’s central defender Tommy Kehoe was judged to have pushed an Antiguan forward following a melee in the area from a corner kick, and a penalty was awarded to the local boys’ opponents.
Antigua’s penalty taker’s low drive struck the base of the right post and bounced to safety.
With players tiring, substitutes Jackson Kirkconnell replaced Jonah Sigsworth, Jahrion Bodden came on for Ciaron Haylock, Kameron Bennett entered the field for Corey Smith and David Pitcairn replaced Daniel Wallace.
Cayman had a few more chances to increase their lead in the second half. Lapses in concentration presented Antigua with a number of half-chances but their poor finishing was their downfall, the press release states.
The local boys were allowing Antigua too much possession in midfield, but central defenders Luke Byles and Tommy Kehoe showed a few timely and essential challenges.
With a few minutes left and victory within their grasp, midfield stalwart Barry-Dre Tibbetts capped off an excellent tournament with an inspiring last few minutes as he orchestrated a “session in possession,” the press release states.
“As the final whistle sounded, the Cayman Islands players fell to the ground with elation. They had done what they had set out to do – undefeated with four wins out of four.”