Scholars ISC will be taking on Latinos in the Cayman Islands Football Association President’s Cup finals. Scholars come to the finals after defeating Bodden Town FC 3-1 in their semi-final encounter Tuesday night at the Ed Bush Stadium. The game was a must-win for Scholars, not only to advance in the tournament, but also to avenge their earlier 2-0 loss to Bodden Town in league play.
The two top teams went scoreless until the 40th minute, when Scholars’ Kevin Foster scored a goal, closing the first half 1-0. Four minutes into the second half, Bodden Town’s Brian Martin Cruz levelled the score. However, after being subbed in, Scholars’ Rodrick Pearson shot from outside the box to find the back of the net, and teammate Dwight Dunk followed with a goal in added time, to knock Bodden Town out of the tournament.
“The team played well,” said Foster after the game. “We were winning the battle in midfield, and once we win the battle in midfield, we are more than likely to win the match. So, everyone was doing their job and I’m glad that I can contribute my little part.”
Bodden Town will now turn their focus to the league, where they currently sit on top.
“We fell short in a tough-fought battle but that’s in the past, and we’re looking forward to what’s coming in the league,” said Bodden Town captain Karl Solomon. “It’s been a month without playing football, so that played a big part in today’s game, with not much fitness, or training. They have been training hard, so we gave them the win.”
Scholars head coach Colin Rowe said of his team’s victory, “First and foremost, I must say that the players put in great work in [training]. We were looking forward to this game especially, because [in] the first game, we weren’t pleased with the results so, we came out here to put in the hard work, and dedication really paid off. This was a really good victory and we’re looking forward now to moving onto the next round.”
Rowe said Latinos will be the underdogs coming into the finals, to be played later this month. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Elite, Latinos or Bodden Town, any team that Scholars play, we bring out the best in every team and we are always the favourites,” he said. “We will prepare for the finals…and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
In the second semi-final game, Latinos pulled off a 2-1 victory over Elite at the Annex. Latinos’ Ronald Hernandez scored the first goal of the game to put his team ahead. In the second half, several opportunities were squandered by Elite, while Latinos’ Paul Rodriguez made good on his chance in front the goal, scoring in the 72nd minute. The referee gave the players seven minutes of extra time, during which a goal by Elite’s Christopher Reeves took the clean sheet away from Latinos to end the game 2-1.
“We’re going to the finals, and the finals for us is a huge gift,” said Latinos coach Saulo Castro, after the match. “I know in the finals we’re gonna be playing against Scholars, a very experienced team, but Latinos are coming to fight for it. So, I’m very excited for the team… my guys are celebrating. My players promised me this cup, because we can’t get the league, and I believe in them.”
If Latinos can pull off a win against Scholars in the finals, it would mark the first time the team captures the prestigious CIFA President’s Cup. However, Elite’s head coach said that won’t be an easy task.
“We didn’t manage to control the game today, like we normally do, but it was their day,” said Elite’s head coach Gregory Ebanks. “Comparing Latinos to Scholars, it’s going to be a very high-scoring game. For a team to beat Scholars right now is going to be very, very challenging.”