Cayman Athletic wins U17 FA Cup

Cayman Athletic capped an unbeaten season with a win in the Under-17 FA Cup Wednesday, 8 February, after beating Academy Sports Club ‘B’ in the finals.

It was always going to be a challenge for the Academy side, who were thrashed 14-0 by Athletic when they played their last league match two weeks earlier.

Athletic came into the Annex as the heavy favourites with their line-up littered with national youth team players including D’Andre Rowe, Kareem Foster and Rico Bodden, who have also seen playing time for the club’s senior team this season in the Cayman Premier League. On the other hand, the Academy ‘B’ team featured many Under-15 players playing up an age group.

Despite the recent history and how they shaped up on paper, there was still 90 minutes of football to be played.

The favourites pressed their agenda from the get-go. It took seven minutes for them to take the lead but this was gifted to them when a lack of communication between defender Jahmai Griffiths and keeper Callhan Studenhofft resulted in them bumping into them and the ball coming loose. National forward Cody Ebanks was presented with an easy scoring opportunity and knocked the ball into the open net.

Cody Ebanks opened the scoring.

Two minutes later, Bodden, the league’s leading scorer, fired one past the outstretched hands of the Academy keeper to make it 2-0 within the first two minutes. At that stage, it appeared a score line similar to their last meeting was in store.

With Athletic keeping the pressure on, the Academy players did their best to hold them off but the fire power was too great. In the 17th minute, Foster collected the ball on the elbow of the 18-yard box after racing down the left wing and fired it home. Studenhofft failed to grasp it cleanly and Athletic took a 3-0 lead.

Rico Bodden was the leading U17 scorer this season.

There was a sense of more goals to come and Bodden nearly doubled his tally in the 22nd but the marksman hit the post. The ball bounced back into play and Ebanks pounced but Studenhofft came up with an impressive block.

After pretty much one-way traffic through the first half-hour, Academy regrouped and had moments of solid football, stringing together a series of passes and looking like a cohesive unit. They then split possession with Athletic for the balance of the half without any more scores coming.

Seven minutes after play resumed, Athletic widened the gap. A defender was whistled for a handball in the box and a penalty was awarded. As he’s done before this season, national youth keeper Albertini Holness took the kick and made it count. 4-0 Athletic.

Corey Smith was one of the bright sparks for Academy.

If someone entered the Annex at this point, they could have easily thought the game was a scoreless draw – in part to Athletic easing off the gas and Academy playing more like what their coach, Paul Byles, would have wanted to see.

Another goal came in the 84th minute courtesy Athletic substitute Jalen Walters.

In the end, the score was 5-0 but while the cup went to the victors, Academy players could take consolation that as a younger side, they showed heart and did not give up.

Meantime, Cayman Athletic coach Ernie ‘Gillie’ Seymour praised his players for their performance this season.

“What this group did more than the other team was that the stuck to the game plan. We worked on a lot of the stuff that we did in the match and they came and they applied it,” he said.

The majority of the Cayman Athletic players will have to move up an age group to the Under-21s or to the senior men’s league.

Cayman Athletic are presented the U17 FA Cup by CIFA Acting General Secretary, Wendy Fisher.

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