With both finals going down to the wire, the Hikers men and National ladies managed to secure success when Guyana Hockey Board (GHB) opened its 2010 season with a warm-up one-day tournament at Thirst Park on Sunday last.
While the inclement weather in the preceding days had brought some uncertainty about the staging of the game and ruled out the participation of some clubs, the GHB still pulled off two competitive divisions.
The Hikers men and National ladies teams triumphed in the first and second division competitions respectively by virtue of penalty shootouts at full time.
The Hikers, who dominated all but one of their pool matches, opened with a win against GCC; defeating them 1-0 when Jarenzeno Bell made the singular goal for the entire match.
In the second match up, however, the tables were turned when GCC successfully avenged themselves, presenting Hikers with their singular loss as they claimed victory 2-1.
While they persisted with their meticulous strategies in the final play, leading to a draw, a penalty shootout had Hikers coming out victorious.
Philip Fernandes capitalised on some sloppy Hikers defensive play in the opening minutes to put his team up by one. And while the game saw many close chances, the defence of Robert Fernandes for the Hikers and Dwayne Scott and Shad Fernandes for GCC held firm.
Robert Fernandes finally got a breakthrough for the Hikers, four minutes from full time with a cracking shot to draw the game and send it into a penalty stroke shootout to determine the winner. Hikers held their nerve and victory by one goal after a solid goalkeeping performance on the flicks by Jason Hoyte.
Hikers also thrashed Old Fort by 4-0 and came out 5-0 in their two pool clashes.
Old Fort got off to a slow start against the Hikers and lost 1-0 in their first dual with GCC. Keeping the score even at 0-0 in their second attempt against the Bourda boys was the most they could muster.
National ladies, playing in their first competition since the selection of their squad in preparation for the CAC Games in July dictated the second division competition.
They played against the junior men and managed to hold them to three draws in as many matches to secure enough points to make the final. Besides drawing with the Nationals 2-2, the Hikers ‘B’ proved the strongest second division team in the pool round; defeating GCC ‘B’ by 1-0 and drawing with Old Fort ‘B’ 1-1.
The final clash between the Hikers ‘B’ and National ladies failed to produce any goals as both teams battled for midfield dominance.
With the game drawn at full time, National ladies then pulled off a stunning 3-0 victory in the penalty stroke shootout with goals by Sonia Jardine, Kerensa Fernandes and Marisha Rodrigues National ladies’ keeper, Alyssa Xavier, was rock-solid in the net saving all three of the Hikers ‘B’ attempts.
The GHB season now shifts indoors with their first scheduled tournament being at the end of this month.