Saturday, February 17, 2018

Early strike

U-20 women win CONCACAF opener


In control: Trinidad and Tobago’s Canada-based midfielder Donika Murray, right, takes on Honduran defender Dania Reyes Hernandez during their CONCACAF Under-20 Championship match Friday night at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in the Cayman Islands. The Soca Princesses won 2-0 and will look to make it two wins in a row today against hosts Cayman Islands, while Honduras will meet Mexico, who defeated the hosts 6-0 on Friday.

Mark Fraser

 Trinidad and Tobago’s Under 20  women’s team made a winning start  to the CONCACAF Women’s Championship defeating Honduras 2-0 on Friday night at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in the Cayman Islands.

It was the first win for the T&T team at the final round in six appearances and a much deserved one as captain Anique Walker and Brianna Ryce each netted a goal to give the Soca Princesses the first three points on offer in Group B. 

Mexico dominated hosts Cayman Islands 6-0 in the second match to go top of the standings ahead of T&T on goal difference. T&T will face Cayman Islands in their second match today.

The T&T players wore black armbands as a mark of respect for deceased national men’s player Akeem Adams. And on a request to CONCACAF from the TTFA, there was also a moment’s silence before the start of the match in memory of the former player who also had appeared in the men’s version of the CONCACAF Under -20 World Cup Qualifying Final Round.

Honduras, playing in their first-ever CONCACAF Under-20 finals, started brightly and remained active throughout the evening.

In the 19th minute, Lauren Hall dribbled into the right side of the  T&T 18-yard box and unleashed a shot that goalkeeper Tanesha Palmer did well to put over the crossbar. 

Two minutes later, T&T went on the attack as the influential Patrice Campbell burst into the left side of the Honduran box, ripping an attempt that goalkeeper Kelin Palma couldn’t catch. Maribiz Guevara, however, was able to clear the ball from danger.

At the half-hour mark, Honduras were presented with a free-kick positioned at the upper-right corner of the penalty area.  Hall’s ensuing effort did not miss by much as it whistled past the near post.

T&T’s Ryce then showed some silky skills, dribbling on the left-side and snaking a cross that travelled in front of the Honduran goal before it was kicked out of bounds at the far post.

T&T , though, would not pass up on the next opportunity in the 39th minute.  Campbell delivered a corner kick that Walker flew through the air to meet.  The  effort ball hit off Palma’s hands, rebounded off the crossbar and landed just over the goal line. 

Ryce made it 2-0 in the 49th minute, sending a wonderful glancing header past Palma off a left-side cross from the ever-present Campbell. 

T&T head coach Izler Browne was pleased with the opening win but warned that T&T must maintain their winning ways to advance to the semi-finals.

“It’s a great feeling to get off the mark in the first match. I thought the girls worked hard and they deserved the victory. We knew we had to get a good start to keep our hopes alive and we did just that. Now it’s on to the next game against the host nation and we must maintain our discipline and complete the job again. We have to remain focused and ensure we book our spot in the next round,” Browne said.

The top two teams from each group advance to the semi-finals on Friday, January 17.  The semi-final winners will contest the final, as well as qualify directly for the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada.  The winners of the third-place match also earn a coveted ticket to the event.