Jamaica draw puts Costa Rica in U-20 semis
• GEORGE TOWN
Costa Rica scored an early goal, conceded one in the second half and held on for a 1-1 draw with Jamaica to progress on Monday to the semifinals of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship.
Meanwhile, McKenzie Meehan scored three goals and the United States defeated Guatemala 10-0 in the second match on Monday to also qualify for the semifinals as group winners. The USA had beaten Costa Rica 6-0 and Jamaica 3-0 previously.
Central Americans Costa Rica clinched second place in Group A with four points, two more than Jamaica. The United States amassed a perfect 3-0-0 record to capture the top spot.
At the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, on Monday, Caribbean champions Jamaica needed a win to advance. That task was made more difficult in the seventh minute, when the Ticas grabbed a 1-0 lead. Melissa Herrera sent a diagonal ball through the box that Michelle Montero tapped into the net, while sliding at the left post.
Sensing urgency, the Reggae Girlz lifted the level of their play immediately and sustained long periods of possession.
Only two minutes later, Marlo Sweatman headed over the Costa Rican crossbar off a feed from the outstanding Khadija Shaw.
Alexa Allen fired a shot from the top of the box in the 33rd minute that was saved by goalkeeper Mariela Vasquez, who would remain active for much of what was left in the encounter.
More good work from Shaw enabled the Caribbean champions to equalise 11 minutes after the break. The 16-year-old did well to win possession in the middle and then ran wide with the ball down the left, before supplying a perfect cross for Oshay Nelson Lawes to nod home.
In the 70th minute, Trudi Carter’s effort from 23 metres forced Vasquez into a two-touch acrobatic stop. The Costa Rican popped the initial shot in the air and then somehow contorted her body to tap the ball away for a corner kick.
Vasquez demonstrated bravery once again in the 77th minute, crashing into the left post to block a Shaw header.
Shaw, named the most outstanding player at the Caribbean Under-20 qualifying tournament last year, nearly got the winner in the 82nd minute. The Harbour View product chested a throw-in, turned quickly and struck the crossbar from just beyond the right side of the box.
Herrera had the game’s last chance, but as the Costa Rican tried to get the ball in from the left side of the box, Jamaica goalkeeper Taylor Grant charged out to make the save.