GBTI GCC Tigers, YMCA OFHC Top Form are hockey champions
The thrilling Men’s final was a fitting farewell to the 2019 Noble House Goals Galore Indoor Hockey Championships, as matches concluded on Sunday evening at the National Gymnasium, Mandela Avenue. The top ranked Pepsi Hikers with a zero-goal handicap would face YMCA OFHC Top Form with a five-goal advantage.
The surprise of the match took place only three minutes after the start when entertaining Top Form midfielder Omar Hopkinson completed a skilful individual move to send his shot past Jason Hoyte in the Hikers goal. The Hikers would now have six goals to overcome.
Top Form held firm for the next ten minutes, but tournament top scorer Aroydy Branford would be difficult to keep scoreless as he proved in the 13th minute with a penalty corner missile to open the Hikers account. With no further goals being scored in the 20-minute first half and the score at 6-1 to Top Form, the Hikers had their work cut out for them.
Captain Robert France with a nifty deflection and midfielder Jamarj Assanah launched the comeback with goals in the 25th and 29th minutes. Newcomer Louis Adams however, playing with greater exposure than expected at this level, completed a left side Top Form attack with a first time shot into the open goal immediately following Assanah’s goal to move the scores to 7-3.
With 10 minutes remaining and needing four goals to tie the score, the Hikers replaced goalkeeper Hoyte with an additional field player and piled pressure on the Top Form defence. Branford scored a second penalty corner and a field goal in the following four minutes the ploy seemed to be working superbly well for the Hikers.
Veteran defenders Aderemi Simon and Chris Low-Koan however, held firm and foiled several Hikers attacks. Captain Robert France would bring the Hikers within one in the very final minute of play, but despite their hurry, time would expire before any further progress could be made, leaving Top Form to celebrate the 7-6 victory.
Paul D’Andrade of YMCA OFHC Top Form as adjudged the best goalkeeper of the Men’s division, while Aroydy Branford of Pepsi Hikers, with a staggering 35 goals, received the Most Goals ward.
The Women’s final, though entertaining, was not as close a battle as that of the Men’s. With the unbeaten Spartans enjoying a five-goal handicap to the GBTI GCC Tigers three, the pressure would be on the Tigers to score against what had been a solid Spartans defence, led by Captain Makeda Harding.
The breakthrough would come just five minutes into play for the Tigers through the most unassuming of manners. Sandy Roopnarine, who had been having a quiet tournament so far, pounced on a loose ball in the scoring circle and evaded goalkeeper Jessica Mittelholzer with a shot past her right leg for the Tigers opener.
Marzana Fiedtkou, who had put in an MVP performance throughout the tournament, scored next for the Tigers with a seventh minute penalty corner, which would be her first of three goals in the match. With the Tigers already having made up the deficit by the seventh minute, the Spartans threw caution to the wind and pressed the Tigers defence from the restart.
While the Spartans effort created several chances, goalkeeper Natalie Hing was up to the challenge on each occasion and kept the Spartans scoreless. Fiedtkou would be the next to impact the game with a 22nd minute goal off a counterattack. Roopnarine, Shebiki Baptiste and Fiedtkou would each score once more to put the game well beyond the reach of the Spartans for a final score of 9-5.
Jessica Mittelholzer of the Bingo Spartans was selected as the best goalkeeper of the tournament, while Marzana Fiedtkou’s 20 goals gave her the Top Goalscorer Award for the Ladies division.
Earlier in the evening in the two Men’s semi-finals, the Pepsi Hikers had disposed of the YMCA OFHC Champs 17-15, while YMCA OFHC Top Form gave the Hikers Generals their first loss of the competition 13-10. The GBTI GCC Tigers got the better of the GBTI GCC Spice 5-3, while the Bingo Spartans dismissed Saints 11-6.