GTT Hockey: Pepsi Hikers, GCC sweep titles
The Pepsi Hikers jubilantly celebrated a double victory in the Men’s and Women’s first division competitions when the curtain came down on the GTT National Indoor Hockey Championships on Sunday evening at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall. GCC managed to secure the three other divisions being the Male and Female second division competitions and the Over-35.
The final event of the evening was a fitting highlight of an exciting tournament when Old Fort Lamborghini squared off against the Pepsi Hikers in a final that would see a new winner crowned as both teams had dispatched defending champs Bounty GCC in the pool round.
The Hikers, littered with Guyanese national players, started the match in their usual dominant fashion and but it was Old Fort to first break the deadlock in the sixth minute through an Aderemi Simon penalty corner high in the right corner of the Hikers net. As the high-paced game whizzed back and forth, the Hikers managed to draw even when top midfielder Jamarj Assanah made a brilliant individual run up the right to finish with the equalizer and taking the game into halftime at 1-1.
Skilful striker Aroydy Branford put the Hikers up by four minutes into the second half by finishing off an attacking play with a lethal shot past David Williams in goal for Old Fort. Old Fort then went on a goal-scoring run with three unanswered goals by Warren Williams, Askofu Simon and Aderemi Simon, whose goal was his second of the match. With five minutes left in the match Old Fort would struggle to hang on to their lead as the Hikers scrambled desperately to make up the deficit.
Hikers and national captain Robert France would lead from the front by pulling his team within one through a 35th minute field goal and the very next minute the Hikers would earn a penalty stroke through a desperation tackle by Old Fort’s Jason Clarke. With nerves of steel, Aroydy Branford scored the penalty to draw the scores even at 4-4.
The game drawn at full time would go into a penalty shootout and then into sudden death after the first series of penalties. Ironically it was MVP of the tournament Aderemi ‘Dove’ Simon, who had put in a sterling performance to get his team to this position who would fail by missing the goal on his final shootout, giving Hikers the victory by the narrowest of margins.
The Women’s final saw much fewer opportunities as the underdog Woodpecker Hikers clogged the middle of the floor with a rock-solid defence and held the game even for the entire first half despite GBTI GCC Tigers enjoying the majority of possession. Marzana Fiedtkou would eventually break the tie and put the GBTI ladies up by one with a nifty reverse stick shot in the 37th minute.
With the clock winding down and the game entering its final two minutes, the Hikers earned a penalty corner that was converted by a high flick from MVP Nicole Eastman. With the scores tied at 1-1, Eastman found herself free in the scoring circle after receiving a pinpoint accurate pass from right back Marisha Fernandes.
Goalkeeper of the tournament for GCC, Briawna Gordon advanced to cover the angles but Eastman let loose a cracker of a shot into the roof of the GCC net that sent the crowd into a frenzy. The come-from-behind victory ended a ten-year dominance of the trophy by the GCC ladies and crowned the new champions, the Woodpecker Hikers.
Earlier in the evening, the GCC Pitbulls and Old Fort Top Form drew their Men’s second division match 2-2, but GCC dominated the shootout to win it 2-0. The Bingo GCC Spartans duplicated the effort in the Women’s second division when they defeated Saints by 3-2 after the regulation ended with the scores tied on 1-1. The GCC Vintage completed the club’s hattrick by crushing the Old Fort Mustangs by 6-3 in the 0ver-35 division.
The individual awards were as follows:
MEN Division 1
Most goals: Aroydy Branford (Pepsi Hikers)
Best Goalkeeper: David Williams (Old Fort Lamborghini)
MVP: Aderemi Simon (Old Fort Lamborghini)
Final result: Pepsi Hikers beat Old Fort Lamborghini 7-6
WOMEN Division 1
Most goals: Nicole Eastman (Woodpecker Hikers)
Best Goalkeeper: Briawna Gordon (GBTI GCC Tigers)
MVP: Nicole Eastman (Woodpecker Hikers)
Final result: Woodpecker Hikers defeated GBTI GCC Tigers 2-1
MEN Division 2
Most goals: Warren Williams (Old Fort Top Form)
Best Goalkeeper: Michael Hing (GCC Pitbulls)
MVP: Omar Hopkinson (Old Fort Top Form)
Final result: GCC Pitbulls defeated Old Fort Top Form 4-2
WOMEN Division 2
Most goals: Tekeisha Deleon (Saints)
Best Goalkeeper: Donyelle Marshall (Saints)
MVP: Makeda Harding (Bingo GCC Spartans)
Final result: Bingo GCC Spartans beat Saints 4-3
Most goals: Kevin Spencer (Vintage GCC)
MVP: Dwayne Scott (Vintage GCC)
Final result: Vintage GCC defeated Old Fort Mustangs 6-3