Fri | Sep 29, 2023

Schoolgirl football begins today

Published:Wednesday | February 15, 2023 | 12:47 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Excelsior head coach Xavier Gilbert.
Excelsior head coach Xavier Gilbert.

EXCELSIOR HIGH school kick-start their ISSA Tip Friendly Society School Girls Football title defence against Bridgeport this afternoon at 4:00 at the Stadium East Sports Complex and coach Xavier Gilbert is expecting a good start from his girls.

The game will be the second of a double-header after Garvey Maceo and Central High open proceedings at 2 p.m.

Gilbert has retained the majority of the players from last season’s sixth successive title success and believes they are equipped to go all the way again.

“I am expecting us to start off okay. Hopefully, we can do what we have to do to get three points.

“We are definitely coming to defend our title but the objective (today) is to go out and get three points and start on a winning note, and it would be a plus if we do not concede,” he said.

Apart from last season’s top scorer, Davia Richards, who left for college, Excelsior have the core of their team from last season and Gilbert expects the women’s league leading scorer, Shaneil Buckley, Destiny Powell, defender Janeil Mignott and Akelia Johnson to be the lynchpin this year.

“We expect those players to carry us through, backed up by some other youngsters,” he commented.

Bridgeport coach Patrin Wauchope confessed that his young troops will be getting their first taste of competitive football and doesn’t expect to be a match for the defending champions.

As a result, he declared that the objective was not to lose heavily.

“We hope luck will be on our side. The players are not where we want them. So this game is about experience for them, but they will come and do their best.

“Against the defending champions, we expect it to be a tough game. The last time we played was three years ago, so it is a pretty young and inexperienced team.

“But we are optimistic that next year they will be a better team. We just want to put in a good performance so that we are not overrun,” he said.

Excelsior will play out of Zone A with Bridgeport, Merl Grove, Edith Dalton James, Immaculate, Ardenne and St Andrew Technical.

Fifth-three schools will contest this season’s competition, divided into seven zones (A-G). The top two teams, along with two best-placed third place teams from each zone will advance to the round of 16, which will be contested over two legs.

The eight winners over the two legs will be placed in two quarter-final groups, with the top two from each zone moving on to the semifinals. The semi-finals and final will be a single knockout encounter.