Back-to-back league crowns for Scholars

The Scholars family joined in celebrating the title.

Scholars International celebrated their second Cayman Premier League title in as many years and their third in the past four seasons with a 2-1 win over Academy Sports Club at the Annex Sunday night (17 March) to edge Bodden Town Football Club for the top spot.

Scholars and Bodden Town came into the weekend tied on 29 points but Scholars held the edge with a superior goal difference. Academy still had a shot but needed help from Latinos FC in their game with Bodden Town. That would not happen as Bodden Town picked up three easy points without breaking a sweat due to a forfeit by Latinos.

That meant with Bodden Town watching on and sitting on 32 points, Scholars needed a win. A draw would not be enough.

The intent was there early for the storied West Bay club, as they went ahead thanks to a superb finish from Ron Christopher Douglas who pushed through the midfield and tested his luck from about 28 yards out, placing his shot perfectly in the top right hand corner of the goal and out of the reach of Academy keeper Rhon Royer.

Douglas provided the early goal.

Scholars held the 1-0 lead into the second half but Academy were ready to play the role of spoiler. A corner kick in the 63rd minute provided that opportunity when it eventually connected with the boot of Mark Ebanks, who scored for the 12th time this season. That was only the fifth goal conceded by Scholars in their 13 league games.

Urgency beckoned for Scholars, who were up to the task and two minutes later Dwight Dunk provided the goal that would not only be the eventual winner of the game but the one to secure the title.

Academy had momentary reason to celebrate after Ebanks’ goal.

Oneil Taylor, who wore the captain’s armband for much of the season, spoke to as he teammates began their celebrations. “Coming into the game tonight, we were confident – very much. All week we were preparing for this,” he said.

Asked if there was any added pressure knowing Bodden Town was atop the standings by the time the game kicked off, the veteran defender replied: “No, it wasn’t. We had already decided and knew what we had to do. We had to win this game and that’s what we came to do.”

Head Coach Colin ‘Dougie’ Rowe had been busy leading the team in training not just for this game but for the CONCACAF Caribbean Shield next month, pushing training up to as many as six times per week.

“They got the job done,” he said. “We played against a good, young team with character and good fitness level. We kept the shape and we prevailed. Once again, we can do more but we played to the best of our ability considering we were fatigued.”

Sporting the league’s stingiest defence, Rowe was full of praise for the team effort all season. “The defence line is the main part of our puzzle. They are showing their class in terms of blocking shots and the defence holding up. The defence line is one of the main things we work on in our training.”

Taylor concurred. “As you can see with the five goals conceded all season, our defence line stands out.”

Scholars defence has been their backbone this season.

Taylor is confident that the squad will be ready for their upcoming overseas test. “We’re not where we need to be but at least we are getting there. We are closer to where we need to be [than at the start of the season]. Things that we work on in training, we try to execute in games like this one tonight.”

When they head to Curacao for this year’s tournament, the Scholars team can already make plans for the next CONCACAF Caribbean Club Shield, which they secured by winning the Cayman Premier League title again.

See final standings below.

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