Still in it!
Empire’s women will now be tasked to do what their vaunted men couldn’t.
Ayanna Wilson scored a crucial brace, including the decisive go-ahead strike as United Empire came from a goal down to edge Deacons 2-1 yesterday to advance to today’s women’s final of the Banks International Hockey Festival at Kensington Oval.
The come-from-behind victory proved the club’s much needed measure of solace on a day where the local men’s champs succumbed to a humbling 5-2 semi-final drubbing at the sticks of All Stars.
And Empire looked likely of having no teams in any of the three finals after Pamela Forde opened the scoring for Deacons by pouncing on a loose ball in the 30th minute.
But Wilson responded just five minutes later, getting on to the end of a delightful ball down the right flank off the counter to lock the scores on the stroke of half-time.
Deacons appeared to dominate the proceedings again upon the game’s resumption. However, the youthful Empire side were able to soak up the pressure and benefited from a couple of lucky bounces.
That turn of fortune then paid off in the 56th minute as Empire went on yet another counterattack led by Aliena Stanford, who duly picked out a streaking Wilson for the game-winner.
Deacons still probed thereafter for an equalizer but were let down by their final passes and finishing.
DU Badd also overcame a one-goal deficit before beating ABC by an identical 2-1 scoreline to book their spot in the women’s championship game.
Nicole Brathwaite didn’t waste any time putting ABC ahead after netting the opening goal in the game’s very first minute.
However, Camille Pounder answered midway through the first half, and D’Jamila Edwards then capped off the rally in the 51st to secure victory.
There would be no such heroic comeback tale for Empire’s men, who fell into a quick 2-0 hole courtesy of first-half goals from veteran Venslough Leacock (seventh) and national player Shonkeel Wharton (18th).
Fellow national Che Warner attempted to make a game of the contest early in the second half, though, scoring a pair of goals to sandwich Ryan Davis’ strike in the 52nd that reduced the margin to a 3-2 deficit.
But Laron Harper and Akeil Franklyn each scored within the final five minutes of the game to end any threat of a dramatic rally.
Earlier, Keron Taylor had a double to lead ABC into the final via a 4-1 beating of UWI in the other men’s semi-final.
ABC jumped all over their opponents in an eight-minute span in the first half that saw goals from Taylor (14), Mario Moore (15) and Akeem Rudder (22).
Justin Catlin pulled one back for UWI just two minutes into the second half only to see Taylor restore the three-goal cushion in the 69th.
DU Badd and Sentry Insurance Rockets will face off for the mixed title at 2 p.m. after beating Paradise and ABC, respectively.
Du Badd won 5-1, while Rockets edged ABC 3-2.
Matches get under way at 9:30 a.m. with plate finals. The women’s final will be at 4 p.m. and the men’s two hours later.