Vincy Ballers defied all odds to outdo the Saint Lucia Select (SLS) XI 3-1 on their way to winning the inaugural Free Kick Invitational Youth Cup—in the grand finals at the Daren Sammy Cricket Grounds [DSCG], on Monday.
With a 2-1 lead at the halfway stage, the St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) club added another goal in the latter session to seal the deal against the local team that was highly rated as a top contender in the tournament.
The SLS XI had been riding high on a ‘wave of popularity’ for their goal-scoring prowess and dashing play. But having played unbeaten in the competition, thus far, this final challenge turned out not to be their day.
After Ballers took the lead early in the first half, SLS hit back with a relentless volley of counter attacks with their strikers, on the prowl for that elusive goal in a heated five-minute period. Undoubtedly, this was the popular home team’s best showing in the match, but the ball just could not hit the back of the nets.
The SVG team would go 2-up later in the half, as a Ballers striker eluded the defenders to send the ball scorching into the right corner.
In relentless pursuit, while stepping up their offensive play, SLS XI prolific striker Keegan Caul’s header found the nets on the cusp of the interval to try boost his team’s spirits, but the Vincies’ held their ground to continually thwart off the attacks. Caul’s tally of 10 goals won him the Most Goals Scored award.
A Vincy Ballers player orchestrated a brilliant run into the second half as he went past three or four defenders, and then curled the ball away neatly into the far corner past the onrushing goalkeeper.
Caul got an opportunity to help his team cut down on the lead from the penalty spot in the 70th minute or so, but he kicked high over the bar; one of his rare misses from the spot.
As the remaining minutes went by, SLS chances of springing a late goal flurry to tilt the balance all but petered out as the Vincies kept out the offense with a ‘wall of a defense’ to earn victory and the coveted trophy.
While providing an overview of the tournament, Free Kick Foundation CEO/Founder, and lead organizer of the Free Kick Cup, Aaron King stated that “we saw a lot of exciting and great football played over the past week …and rightfully so, Vincy Ballers who came in (last) Tuesday night showed their mettle right off the bat with Lil Haiti, one of the favourites of the tournament and everyone just fell in love with this team.”
Acknowledging the tenacity and prowess of the Vincy Ballers team, Aaron told Voice Sports: “Their fight, their technical ability and everything else …really worked out well in favour of this young uprising football team in the sub-region.”
While SLS XI had to settle for silverware; the other local contenders Vieux Fort South took the bronze medal in the third place playoffs against Trincity Nationals. At the completion of a 1-all draw, V-Fort South went to win the penalty tussle. – Reginald Andrew
Scores from the semi-final matchups played on the previous day, were as follows:
Vincy Ballers vs. TrinCity Nationals 2-1,
St Lucia Select XI vs. Vieux Fort South 5-3.