Although the final score didn't reflect what Neville "Bertis" Bell would have liked, the St George's College technical director was far from disappointed with the effort shown by his team in their 2-3 loss away to Waterford High on Wednesday.
After winning their first two games – against Ardenne High (6-0) and Meadowbrook High (8-0) – it was expected to be three wins in a row for St George's College. But they were stunned by a determined Waterford team in their Group A clash.
After Raniel Stephenson put Waterford 2-0 up with goals in the first and 10th minutes, Brian Burkett (18th) and Rasheed Hanns (40th) brought St George's level. However, Stephenson grabbed his third of the afternoon in the 51st minute to give Waterford the victory.
With the results, St George's College slipped to third in the standings with six points, while Waterford moved to second place with seven points. Defending champions Kingston College are in pole position with a maximum nine points.
The top two teams from each group, along with the four best third-place finishers, will advance to the next round of competition.
"I don't think we did badly; I think the playing surface kind of threw us off as you can see that we gave up a couple of easy goals, but we fought back. We were down 0-2 and we came back and levelled the score at 2-2 and they [Waterford] got the winner and so congrats to them. It is the first round and, hopefully, we will improve from this; hopefully, we will learn from this and we will move on," Bell told the Jamaica Observer.
Last season St George's College didn't make it out of the group stages, but Bell is confident that his team will go deep in the competition this season.
"It is the same players, is just that last year we didn't prepare for it, we didn't train at all, but this year we have prepared and we will be fine. We have lost a game, but we will be fine," he said.
St George's College started the contest on the back foot and quickly went behind when Waterford's Stephenson easily tapped home from close range in quick succession.
St George's eventually got into their stride toward and pulled a goal back through Burkett, who converted from the penalty spot. Approaching the half-time break Hanns saw his 30-yard free kick slip through the hands of Waterford's goalkeeper Alphanso Salmon.
It was a titanic tussle between the teams on the resumption, Waterford found the winner as Stephenson knocked home another close-range strike.