On yet another freezing cold morning, the Guyana women’s hockey team squared off against favoured Trinidad to contest the match for 7th& 8th spots in the PAHF Cup in Mendoza, Argentina.
Trinidad’s surprise loss to Mexico in a penalty shootout meant that the Caribbean neighbours were both relegated to the lowly position of contesting for the final two spots.
Contrary to their earlier encounter in the pool round, Guyana came out swinging and for the first time in the competition did not concede an early goal. In fact it was Guyana who would be first on the score sheet as the rebound from a penalty corner flick by Trisha Woodroffe gave her a second chance and she nailed the finish to give Guyana a 1-0 lead at the half.
Eight minutes into the second half Guyana would stun the CAC champions as Kerensa Fernandes chased down a through pass and made her own long pass to Aliyah Gordon in the circle who made a deceptive turn around the Trinidadian goalkeeper to score Guyana’s second.
Gordon had her best game of the tournament thus far and so did Captain Chantelle Fernandes who took control of the midfield to make up for the injured Leigh Sandison who could not perform at her best due to an injury sustained during the tournament.
Trinidad pressed forward in desperation and forced Guyana back for several minutes until the breakthrough finally came. In the 58th minute, Trinidadian captain, Allana Lewis found the back board on a penalty corner sweep. Trinidad would have more success as Dana-Lee De Gannes tipped back a rebound off a powerful Trinidadian penalty corner strike to draw even.
Luck deserted Guyana as Trinidad were awarded a controversial penalty stroke five minutes from full time which was converted by Blair Wynne. Trinidad then dropped back and defended in their half for the remaining five minutes.
As time ran down Guyana would have one more golden opportunity to score as a penalty corner set piece gave them a great scoring opportunity, but it hit a Guyanese foot en route to goal and was disallowed. Trinidad would therefore enjoy the comeback victory by 3-2 taking seventh place in the process. Guyana had to settle for the last spot in the eight team competition.
The Guyanese ladies had suffered another disappointing loss to Uruguay two days earlier by 6-0. In that match, Uruguay got an early lead in just the second minute of play when a poor clearance by Guyana fell to the stick of Lucia Lamberti who converted for the opening goal.
Guyana then held the game even for the next twenty minutes until a pair of careless tackles by Guyana’s captain Chantelle Fernandes sent her off the field for five and then an additional fifteen minutes. Guyana struggled with only 10 players on the pitch and the momentum of the match swung in Uruguay’s favour as they capitalized on the numerical advantage by scoring two goals to earn a 3-0 lead.
It was a different game when the Captain returned as the Guyanese now tiring from chasing the well-rehearsed Uruguayan side needed to play aggressive hockey to reduce the deficit, Guyana pressed forward but the vulnerability created at the back succumbed to the pace of the Uruguayan attack which took advantage and scored three additional goals in the second half to win by 6-0.
Coach Philip Fernandes indicated his disappointment in the final placement, but acknowledged that it was always going to be a tough task to defeat teams that are ranked much higher than Guyana.
Fernandes indicated that the team could still have pride in the fact that they qualified in the top eight teams of the 26 nations in the Pan American Federation. He also indicated that those in attendance remarked at Guyana’s vast improvement despite not having an artificial pitch on which to train and this also attracted the attention of Mr. Leandro Negre, President of the International Hockey Federation who promised to do all possible to address this deficiency.
Mr. Negre indicated in a conversation with the Guyanese hockey President that, while he could not promise full funding for an artificial pitch, some funding could be made available and would be forwarding the required conditions for Guyana to qualify for such assistance.
Argentina defeated the USA by 1-0 in the final, while Canada took third place over Chile. Mexico scored a surprise victory over Uruguay for 5th& 6th places followed by Trinidad and then Guyana. Argentina will represent the Americas at next year’s women’s hockey World Cup as a result of their victory.
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