By Romario Samaroo
The opening tournament of the Guyana Hockey Board the Bounty/Antonio’s Grille One Day Cup competition could not have set the tone for the sport better as Old Fort Carriers left nothing in the tank to take the top male prize on Sunday at the Providence National Stadium.
Despite the overnight showers and a damp outfield, 31 matches on the day saw the season opener for outdoor hockey crowning Old Fort Carriers as the top male team while Pizza Hut GCC extended their dominance to an unprecedented eight straight victories in the female section.
In the male division, competition was at its peak mount as both semifinals were forced into penalty flicks with no clear winner being determined in the regulated time frame.
In the first semi-final looked to be in the final, after leading the scorecard 1-0 from the sixth minute of play thanks to Shaquel Leung. But Jason Dos Santos’ pass to Ivor Thompson in the 20th minute embodied the fight Old Fort had put up for the entire day and helped level the proceedings. In the penalty shootout which followed, Old Fort stormed into the final.
Arch rivals and tournament favourites, Pepsi Hikers and Bounty GCC went head-to-head in the second semi-final with the GCC side storming into the final after a 2-2 draw in the 20-minute contest.
Kevin Spencer began the Bounty team’s quest for a finals berth with the first goal of the match in the fourth minute while Randy Hope equalized in the second half (13th minute). Devin Munroe positioned Pepsi Hikers to steal the match three minutes later, however, Dwayne Scott had other plans as he scored the leveling goal in the 17th minute. In the penalty flick Aroydy Brandford and Devin Munroe scored from the spot but Kareem McKenzie, Mark Sargeant and Kevin Spencer ensured Bounty’s spot in the final.
In the male final, adrenaline was high and so was excitement as everyone present at the event gyrating to the pulsating sounds coming from the stereos still had their eyes glued to what would be one for the record books.
Some 20 minutes into the nail-biter a winner was still not in sight as the three representatives from opposing sides stepped to the penalty line. Both goalkeepers, with their hearts in their hands, tried valiantly to pick the play of the strikers and on any given day it could have swung in the favour of either team but in the end Old Fort Carriers won.
Meanwhile, Pizza Hut GCC continued their domination of the tournament with a 2-0 win over Woodpecker Hikers to secure the female title with the natural lights at the stadium dwindling to a nonexistent presence.
Throughout the day, Pizza Hut GCC remained unmatched as they handed out whippings to Saints (4-0), Old Fort Rising Stars (3-0), Woodpecker Hikers (2-0) and GCC Spice (5-0).
Old Fort Carriers were also on top of their game beating Saints Hockey Club New Tricks, Bounty GCC and Hikers Cadets all by a 2-0 margin resulting in them topping the group stages.