LAURELLE THEODORE: Locally-based Laurelle Theodore, right, eyes the ball.
LAURELLE THEODORE, last season’s Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) top goalscorer while representing St Augustine Secondary, netted a hat-trick to lead Trinidad and Tobago to a respectable third spot in the 2014 CONCACAF Under-15 Girls Championship, which ended Sunday night in the Cayman Islands.
Theodore’s strike partner, American-born Raenah Campbell netted two goals, as Trinidad and Tobago won 5-2 over Honduras, in securing team bronze at the end of the tournament. T&T also received two picks on the tournament’s All-Star team-- Germany-based defender/midfielder Amaya Ellis and striker Campbell.
The junior Soca Princesses became just the second female T&T team to finish in the top three of a CONCACAF tournament, following the third-place finish by the senior women’s team at the 1991 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup, behind USA and Canada.
Having benefitted from competing against women, in some cases twice their age, in the local Women’s League Football Premier League this season, the junior Soca Princesses are also the first T&T girls youth team to get a top three finish at the level.
Theodore ended the tournament as T&T’s top scorer with five goals, one adrift of the tournament joint Golden Boot winners from Cayman Islands and Haiti. Meanwhile, Campbell scored four goals for T&T, while Alexis Fortune (Canada-born ) and Adanya Phillip both netted twice. Defenders Ellis, Sheneika Paul and Nia Honore also contributed a goal apiece. T&T conceded five goals in their six matches.
The tournament also ended with two Caribbean teams finishing in the top three of a CONCACAF women’s tournament for the first time-- despite Canada beating Haiti 4-2 on penalty kicks to win the final.
Leading from the 47th minute, Haiti paid a price for going ultra defensive in the final ten minutes, only conceding the equaliser six minutes from the end, as the 70-minute regulation period ended in a 1-1 draw. T&T had gone down 1-0 to Canada at the semi-final stage, while Haiti defeated Honduras 2-0.
Campbell scored as early as the fourth minute as Trinidad and Tobago got off to a fast start and Theodore (16th, 20th & 33rd) put in her three in a 17-minute spell giving T&T a 4-0 lead just over the half-hour mark.
Campbell then got a second goal in the 48th minute. Leading 5-0, T&T gave some of the substitutes a run by making four changes, including giving reserve keeper Malaika Dedier a first taste of action in the tournament. Honduras were able to get two late goals from midfielder Lisbeth Bonilla.
Commenting on the tournament, CONCACAF Executive Committee member Sonia Bien-Aime described the standard as very high. She said the regional body were pioneers at the level since football’s world governing body FIFA, as yet, do not have under-15 tournaments.
“It sets the mark and prepares our (CONCACAF) girls for the under-17 World Cup,” Turks and Caicos general secretary Bien-Aime said.