‘I have two saves in me’ - Cavalier goalkeeper White keeps penalty saving promise
Throughout the drama of the penalty shoot-out to decide the 2021 Jamaica Premier League title last Saturday, Cavalier SC goalkeeper Jeadine White felt that he had at least a couple of saves in his arsenal to get his team over the line.
His words turned out to be prophetic as his saves in the first and sixth rounds of the shoot-out, followed by Jamar Purcell converting his spot-kick, helped Cavalier to capture the prize, beating Waterhouse 5-4 on penalties in the grand final at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence. The win ended a 40-year wait for another national title.
The game finished 1-1 after regulation and extra time after Waterhouse's Damion Binns equalised with the final kick of the second half cancelling out Jamoi Topey 17th minute header which up to that point seemed to be the game-winner.
After a tense extra-time session, penalties followed and White managed to make the first save on Waterhouse's attempt, setting the stage for Jeovanni Laing to win it in the fifth round, an opportunity that was denied by Waterhouse goalkeeper Zamoiy Nash to force sudden death.
While crushed at yet another chance squandered to win the game, White said that he was still confident that he could come through for his team when it mattered most, citing his team's insistence on fine-tuning their penalty taking and saving skills since the end of the regular season.
"We have been practising penalties ever since we qualified for the play-offs and Laing is a person who we least expected to miss," White said after the game. "So seeing him miss we knew that it was nerves that kicked in. But I already told the coach before the penalties start that I have two (saves in me). I got the two, probably could have had more. But I am grateful for the two because the two made us win the game."
It is not the first time that White has come up huge in this postseason. In the second leg of the semi-finals against Tivoli Gardens last Wednesday, White saved a Tivoli penalty deep into the second half which could have forced extra time had it scored. Instead, the save preserved their 1-0 aggregate win which got them to the final.
It is a victory that the 21-year-old White says was significant. The philosophy of the club is to promote its youth players and the youngest squad in the league emerged champions.
Technical Director Rudolph Speid said their focus on spot-kicks was something that they had to make sure they fine-tuned going into their title run.
"What I noticed with this particular team they could do a lot of different things. They could play attacking, they could defend if they wanted to and when I saw that I thought we had a very good chance to win," Speid said. "Once we hit the play-offs we said it could come down to penalty kicks, and we made sure we mastered penalty kicks."
It is Cavalier's first title since 1981.