Defending champion Chase Academy,yesterday laboured to a 5-4 win over Christianburg/Wismar in sudden death penalty kicks, after regulation time had ended 2-2, in the first semi-final, a rematch of the 2015 and 2016 finale, at the National Track and Field Centre at Leonora, West Coast Demerara.
The penalty shootout started poorly for the Lindeners, as Andre Mayers fired wide of the left corner. Chase Academy immediately capitalised to take the lead through Jeremy Garrett, who slotted off the right post into the back of the net.
The score became 2-1 in the second round, as both teams scored through Omar Brewley and Ryan Hackett, respectively. The trend continued in the third round, with Jehu Regis netting for Christianburg/Wismar, and (younger sibling) Jermaine Garrett scoring for Chase Academy.
Brentley Allicock then levelled the score to start the fourth round at 3-3, with a shot into the right side. The score remained locked at 3-3, as Shemar Smith was denied by goalkeeper Nicholas Gentle who dove to his left.
Kevin Dare pushed Christianburg/Wismar ahead 4-3, in the fifth round, compliments of his shjot into the right side of the net. However, the game was sent into the sudden death realm, as Cecil Jackman placed his effort into the top left corner.
Chase Academy goalkeeper Sese Norville then made his presence felt, denying a poor Javier Smith penalty kick to hand his team the advantage.
The defending champions then sealed their berth to a third consecutive finale, as Kevin Padmore slotted under the diving Gentle, in the process ending Christianburg/Wismar’s streak of consecutive final appearances at six.
Prior to the dramatic ending, Chase Academy should have taken the lead in the 10th minute, as Adrian Aaron received a pass unchallenged inside the six yard box, only to fire his effort straight at the goalkeeper.
Aaron spurned another great chance in the 22nd minute, latching onto a left side cross to be in a one on one situation, only to blast his effort wide of the lower left corner.
Nevertheless, Chase Academy eventually took the lead in the 26th minute, as a Jeremy Garrett free-kick from 35 yards out in the center of the field, took a deflection off a defender and settled into the right corner.
At the other end, Christianburg/Wismar equalised in the 37th minute, through Omar Brewley, who unleashed a curling free-kick from 23 yards out on the right side, which settled into the top right corner.
The champions retook the lead on the stroke of half-time, with Padmore directing a simple header into the right side, after latching onto a left side cross from Smith.
However, the Linden unit equalised once more in the 56th minute, as Regis racing onto a through pass, beat past the advancing goalkeeper into the lower right side.
Regis almost snatched the lead for Christianburg/Wismar in the 76th minute, directing his powerful unchallenged header straight at Norville, following a right side cross.
On the other side, Hackett almost broke the stalemate in the 82nd minute, as his curling free-kick from outside the left of the box, was tipped over the crossbar by Gentle, flying to his right.