Sport

STETHS bask in glory of historic rural area double

BY PAUL A REID Observer writer

Tuesday, December 03, 2013    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Seven minutes into Saturday's ISSA/Lime daCosta Cup finals at the Montego Bay Sports Complex, St Elizabeth Technical had scored more goals than they had managed in the two previous finals.

Jovan James had scored twice for STETHS to lead and were on their way to exorcising the ghosts of the previous two finals when they lost 1-0 to Rusea's High in 2011 and last year when they were beaten 1-0 in extra time in Glenmuir High.

Omar Wedderburn, the STETHS head coach, had broken down on a nationally televised interview after the 2012 loss, but Saturday night with the game wrapped up and his team well ahead 3-1, there he was standing atop the team's dugout and basking in the adulation and cheers of thousands of STETHS fans who were on hand as his team powered their way to a 4-1 win.

The four goals by one team matched the most in the last 20 years or so after Cornwall College had beaten Munro College 4-0 in 2000 at Jarrett Park.

While it came as a shock to many to see a head coach climbing on top of the dugout, nothing should be ruled out for Wedderburn who wears his emotions on his sleeve and is never shy about expressing his feelings spiced with colloquial sayings and religious quotes.

Saturday's win was the coronation of a brilliant five-year span that started under previous coach Andrew Edwards that saw STETHS contesting eight finals, winning six of them — four daCosta Cup and four Ben Francis KO finals.

The single thread in this run of success, however, has been the guiding hand of veteran coach Wendell Downswell, who has had a hand in every title STETHS have won, as a player in 1974 when they won their first daCosta Cup title; in 1999 when he was the head coach, and since 2009 serving at times as technical director to both Edwards and now Wedderburn.

Unlike last year when they tripped at the final hurdle after they were tipped to go all the way, this year STETHS swept all before them as they won their first Ben Francis KO/daCosta Cup double and now have their sights locked on the Olivier Shield for that possible treble.

Two 1-1 draws against Munro in Zone E in the first round and a 0-0 draw against Frome Technical in the quarter-finals that snapped a 17-game streak that they scored at least once are the only blemish in a season where they dominated.

The 0-0 draw against Frome at Frome also saw the first time this season where their top marksman Khesanio Hall failing to score, precipitating a three-game run where he was kept off the goal-scoring sheet until Saturday's final when he scored a first-half penalty to finish the season with 35 goals in all games — 30 in the daCosta Cup and eight since the start of the Inter-zone round.

While Hall has won the Golden Boot award, the voting for the MVP of the season will be interesting, James, who was part of the Rusea's High team that beat STETHS in the 2011 final, took the team on his back after Hall stopped scoring with four goals in their last three games to get them over the hump. So he's a contender.

Their 23 goals in the first three games should have been a warning to all comers as STETHS were never topped at any stage of the season, scoring 49 goals to win Zone E on goal difference over fierce rivals Munro College with one scare, coming at all places against Newell High when they had to come from behind twice to scrape a 3-2 win. They then finished the first round with 13 unanswered goals.

STETHS then had a relative cake walk to their fourth straight Ben Francis KO, beating Kemps Hill 3-0 then were let off by inexperience against Paul Bogle High to win the semi-final 3-2 before dismissing Manchester High 2-0 in the final.

They were one of three teams, along with Marcus Garvey Technical and Port Antonio High, to have a perfect win record in the Inter-zone round when the daCosta Cup resumed.

After scoring 12 times in the three Inter-zone games, the goals dried up to a trickle in the quarter-finals as they managed just two goals, both 1-0 wins. Still they managed to win their zone with

seven points.

The saying goes that while offence win games, defence wins titles and the STETHS' defence was holding their own as the team went six games without conceding, including the semi-finals that they won 2-0 over Port Antonio High.

The final was expected to be a classic, but Garvey Maceo failed to hold up their end of the bargain, giving up two goals in seven minutes, and despite pulling one back early, were never allowed

to settle.

A 39th minute red card and injuries to key players conspired to serve up one of the most lopsided daCosta Cup finals in years, but you won't hear a single complaint from anyone connected

with STETHS.

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