On Sunday, 16 May, drama was on the cards at the Annex with exciting finishes in both the women’s and men’s FA Cup finals.
In a match that looked almost certain to go into extra time, Elite scored a goal just seconds before the full-time whistle blew, to defeat Sunset 1-0 in the women’s match. Then Bodden Town beat Academy in a penalty shootout following two hours of game play that ended 1-1.
Women’s FA Cup finals
In the first of two competitive finals, Elite and Sunset went 0-0 until Elite’s Janel Ebanks found the bottom left corner of the net for a last-minute goal in added time, sealing the win for her team.
“Honestly, I thought I was giving up but hearing the fans in the stands, hearing my coaches, my teammates encourage me and receiving an awesome ball from my captain Tyanna Jan basically topped it off in the final seconds,” Ebanks told the Cayman Compass after the match.
The FA Cup win marks Elite’s fourth title this season, having already won the CIFA Charity Shield, the women’s league and the President’s Cup. Elite president Martha Godet acknowledged her opposition’s efforts while crediting her players for their persistence.
“This is our first year winning all four cups,” said Godet. “The girls really fought hard, especially these last games, and I am very, very proud of them, and our opponents as well because technically they are very good.”
She said the game was also significant in other ways. “Shanice Monteith got injured during the semifinals of the President’s Cup and she lost her mom recently,” Godet said. “This game, this cup is dedicated to her and we told her this beforehand and I am so proud and so happy that we were able to deliver that.”
After the game, Monteith, who watched the match from the sidelines, was able to join in an emotional celebration with her teammates.
Men’s FA Cup finals
Bodden Town edged Academy 5-4 on penalties after two hours of play ended 1-1. In the first half, Academy controlled the match, with forceful offensive play that led to a Romario Dixon goal in the 30th minute.
Academy continued to control the game in the second half, but the gritty BT boys found new hope after Matthew Suberan fired the ball from nearly 40 yards out to beat goalkeeper David Lee and even the score.
“It’s been a journey,” Suberan told the Compass after the match. [It’s been] a rough season but we reached far and in terms of the goal, I just decided to take it and I’m happy that I scored it.”
The 30 minutes of extra time failed to separate the teams, forcing a nerve-racking penalty shootout.
“I think we controlled a big part of the game,” Academy’s senior coach Nuno Sampaio said after the match. “In one moment, we lost focus and they got a shot and scored a good goal; into extra time both teams were very tired and, of course, the penalties, we know that is a lottery.”
The teams matched penalty for penalty until Lee made the first save, meaning an Academy conversion would lead to victory. However, an off-target shot by Dixon followed by a successful kick by Ricoh Brown and a save by Shakur Welcome, gave the FA Cup to Bodden Town.
“Unfortunately, we missed,” said Sampaio. “That is football, that is life, but I am very proud of all the boys. They worked really hard, and we showed our community, our people the best that we are.”
Welcome, after his game-winning save, told the Compass that he predicted that outcome.
“It feels good,” said Welcome. “We fought to the end and after I saw Ricoh score that penalty, I told him that’s it, we have this game in the bag because I just knew I was going to save it.”
The goalkeeper, who lost his position on Cayman’s national squad following an incident in 2020 involving a former teammate assaulting a referee, said he wants his place back on the big stage.
“Right now, I just want to get my spot back on the national team and I think other players on Bodden Town should be on the national team too because tonight we proved why,” Welcome added.