Santa Rosa lads complete dream run to cop Milo Schools Football title

If anyone attempted to script the end of this year’s Milo Schools Under-18 Football Championship, it is improbable they would have penned the thrilling encounter between Chase Academic Foundation and Santa Rosa Secondary on Sunday evening at the Ministry of Education Ground, Carifesta Avenue.

At half-time, Chase was up 2-0, and it truly seemed done and dusted for the talented Region One team, until a dramatic change in score line and eventual success for Santa Rosa.

The nimble marksmen of the city side, Seon Cato and Matrim Martin, scored two minutes apart, with Cato first hitting his mark in the 22nd after a tense opening exchange between the two sides.

Santa Rosa had some offerings on goal, but none that really tested custodian Reegan Lewis until the second-half where they found his weakness.

Five minutes into the second-half, Roy Vansluytman had a shot on goal and what should have been a pedestrian stop, went through the hands of Lewis, and Santa Rosa was back in the hunt.

It sent off a thunderous cheer from the massive support for the visiting team and their tactics changed to one where they created more opportunities to test the goalie from the long ball at times.

MVP! Roy Vansluytman collects his Most Valuable Player award from the President of the Guyana Football Federation, Wayne Forde

Though still leading by one, the pressure was on the three-time champions, and a foul outside of the box presented a free-kick opportunity.

Slotted to the back-post, against the wind, the towering Vansluytman leaped to head the equaliser and his ninth tournament goal in the 73rd, and the match was truly on again.

Ten minutes later, Justin Alcindor of Chase saw his shot enter the net after a deflection from a defender and it was back on a knife’s edge.

In keeping with the theme of the second-half drama, a goal was bound to come, and it came one minute later via Nelson Lucas that levelled proceedings for Santa Rosa.

Though 90 minutes into the contest, there were hardly any slouched shoulders with fans cheering every play during an enterprising 20 minutes of extra that laid the way for the penalty shootout.

Both sides of the field were swamped with spectators, as Santa Rosa took the first shot and scored, and Chase followed and did the same.

Chase Academic Foundation produced a valiant effort, but had to settle for second

Tense again was the crowd, surprisingly despite all the early ruckus, you could hear a pin drop at this point with all eyes pierced on the penalty area.

Santa Rosa scored again, and the cheers probably could have been heard all along the seawall.

It was Chase’s time again, and this time, it was no goal for them and it was the fault that cost them as Santa Rosa had a perfect five.

Locked 3-3 after extra time, Santa Rosa won 5-3 on penalties in their maiden outing in the tournament – an unbeaten run in seven matches – six wins and a draw.

Earlier, Carmel Secondary won the third-place playoff by defeating McKenzie High 3-0 via goals from Samuel Ferguson (34th), Shem James (46th), and Ian Daniels (85th).

Santa Rosa was voted the most discipline team while their players, Vansluytman and Enrique Williams, won the Most Valuable Player and Best Goal Keeper accolades respectively, while Daniels’ 13 goals were the most for the tournament.

The top four teams were rewarded G$300,000, G$200,000, G$100,000, and G$75,000 respectively, towards school projects.

Santa Rosa indicated they would use the funds to build on their football programme.

Backed by Massy Distribution Guyana Inc. through its Milo brand, the tournament was also supported by MVP Sports, GenEquip Guyana Ltd. and GINMIN Guyana.

Up next for the Petra Organisation will be its ExxonMobil Boys and Girls Under-14 tournament, set to commence mid-May.