Defence wins titles, says Cornwall College's Dr Weatherly

By Paul A Reid
Observer writer

Monday, November 26, 2018

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CATHERINE HALL, St James — “Defence wins title, goals win games” was the quote repeated by Dr Dean Weatherly as his Cornwall College team created history at Montego Bay Sports Complex on Saturday night, beating Jamaica College 1-0 to become the first daCosta Cup team to win the ISSA Champions Cup.

Shavon McDonald, who was later named man of the match and the tournament's most valuable player scored what would turn out to be the winner in the 19th minute, playing the ball with his head while spinning away from his marker Okeefe Cunningham just inside the 18-yard box, and sending a left-footed shot under the sprawling goalkeeper Khari Williams into the far corner.

The win partially exorcised the ghosts of two losses to Jamaica College — in 2014 in the then Super Cup, and in 2016 in the Olivier Shield — and extended Cornwall College's record this season to 20 games without a loss in all competitions. It was their fourth straight “clean sheet”, a complete game without conceding a goal.

“We have emphasised defence, from the very first session in the summer,” Dr Weatherly said. “We knew if we are to go far into the season we were going to need a sound defence.”

So far the team has risen to the occasion as the defence anchored by goalkeeper Peter Sinclair and central defender Calvin Gardner, who had a master class display on Saturday, have only given up two goals in a game once — in the first half of their ISSA/Wata daCosta Cup quarter-final game against Garvey Maceo at St Elizabeth Technical Sports Complex.

They came back to win that game 3-2 and since the start of the second half against Garvey Maceo where Cornwall College trailed 1-2, they have allowed one goal in 585 minutes and 427 since Wolmer's Boys' scored a penalty kick in the first half of their first-round game in the Champions Cup.

Cornwall College also started the season playing solid defence and went 414 minutes before conceding their first goal, in a 4-1 win at Maldon High in Zone A.

On Saturday, Dr Weatherly was happy to have added the Champions Cup to the four daCosta Cup, five Ben Francis KO and one Olivier Shield that he has delivered to the school in two stints since he took over in 1991.

“This has been a long time coming,” he said. “To be the first rural team to win the Champions Cup, we really worked hard for this. Two years ago we fell down but today is the day. It's a very good feeling and the boys worked really hard.”

They had to come back from a less-than-satisfactory performance in the daCosta Cup semi-finals against Frome Technical three days earlier, they won on penalty kicks. “After the game on Wednesday we sat down and said we really wanted this one and we put in the work and it paid off,” added Dr Weatherly.

Jamaica College, he said, were worthy opponents. “This was a very tough game, a meeting of the minds and wits, and it showed the true mettle of this team we have put together. We decided we had to be patient and keep the ball as long as possible; we fell short in some areas and we need to build on that for the next final.”

The game plan, according to Dr Weatherly, was countering the long balls. “We knew they would come with the long ball and we knew we could not press all the time, so we allowed some of the long balls. But we destabilised them and in some cases when they kicked it long we backed off, won the ball, and started our attack again.”

After losing in the semi-finals of the Manning Cup to St George's College on Tuesday, Jamaica College will finish the season without a trophy for only the third time in the last 10 years. They lost two games at the end of the season for the first time over even longer period, and this took a while to sink in for the Old Hope Road team.

“I just believe that we conceded from a very soft goal and we had many attempts, many opportunities to find an equaliser, but we couldn't,” first-year coach Andrew Peart told reporters after the game on Saturday.

Jamaica College had won three titles last year and 12 since the 2013 season and, staring down the barrel Saturday night, they made several changes, all on the offensive end. “We brought on some players to add more offence from the midfield and to add width,” Peart said. “We were aware of Cornwall's defence and we had to be patient with the ball and try to find space; we did create opportunities... The results have been disappointing, losing in the Manning Cup semis and this final.”

Both teams were coming off disappointing performances earlier in the week but lifted their game to another level and delivered a match worthy of a final.

However, while Jamaica College had fallen in their semi-final, Cornwall College managed to prevail, on penalties, against Frome Technical.

McDonald, who had missed a wide open chance two years ago when Cornwall College lost 0-1 to Wolmer's Boys' in the final at Sabina Park, made up with a bit of individual brilliance in the 19th minute. He demanded a throw-in from a teammate, headed the ball delicately over Cunningham, rolled to his right, and beat Williams with a low shot for his eighth goal of the season and second in the Champions Cup.

Jamaica College created more scoring chances and Cawayne Allen hit the post twice in the first half, and his thunderbolt left-footer in the 40th minute beat Cornwall College's goalkeeper Peter Sinclair but rattled off the underside of the crossbar and back into play.

He had another chance in the 81st minute but Sinclair was well-positioned to parry his close range shot for a corner.

Jamaica College came close to finding the equaliser in time added, but Sinclair came off his line and, along with Gardener, smothered the chance.

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