T&T side sets up semifinal date with USA on Friday
By Franklin Wilson in Houston Texas compliments of Fazia’s Collection, Crown Mining Supply, Anglin Enterprises USA, Stag Beer, Germans Restaurant, Queensway Security Service
A spirited second half performance by the Lady Jags was not enough for them to stave off the Trinidad and Tobago’s Soca Princesses who romped to a commanding 5-1 win and a place in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship here at the BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, Texas, last evening.
Playing in their final group match and a place at stake for both sides, it was Guyana’s Caribbean neighbours who made it through following four first half goals in 21 minutes as they recorded their third win in as many encounters at various levels against the Guyanese.
It was a clash of the best two female teams in the Caribbean seeking to outdo each other and it was the Soca Princesses that triumphed in the end on account of a blistering opening 21 minutes led by CONCACAF Player of the Match, Trinidadian midfielder, Ahkeela Mollon.
In the first minute, Jady Jags’ goalkeeper Chante Sandiford as she has done in the previous matches had to effect a save from a cross by Mollon into the box. It was clear from the first whistle that the Trini ladies meant business. Sandiford and her defence were again called upon in the 5th minute to defend as Mollon again threw the ball into the area.
Beautiful work again by Mollon from just over the half way line saw her easing past Ashlee Savona and other players into the box before passing to nippy midfielder Kennya Cordner who faked Sandiford to her left, hitting into the open goal in the 7th minute to take the lead for T&T. Three minutes later the advantage would be doubled when Mollon showed her class and power by working her way deep into the attacking third before passing back to Mariah Shade whose left footed punch with her instep beat Sandiford to the far right in the V.
Canada could not have scored early against the Lady Jags but T&T were up two inside 10 minutes. Constant pressure by Trinidad brought the third goal in the 17th minute, an own goal from Justine Rodrigues, the Lady Jags failing to communicate effectively at the back, cracking under pressure.
Mollon took it on herself in the 21st minute to further tighten their stranglehold on the game while solidifying their semifinal push. She worked her way from just inside the Guyana half again displaying a high degree of strength, awareness and control to beat Sandiford at the near post in the 21st minute as the Trinis took a commanding 4-0 lead as they took the fight away from the Lady Jags.
The Soca Princesses kept pushing from almost the half way line, underscoring their confidence. In a desperate move to cool down the Trinis, Guyana brought on their most successful scorer at this level, Mariam El-Masri in the 27th minute at the expense of Ashlee Savon in midfield as they sought much needed energy upfront.
Cordner made a beautiful turn in the box in the 30th minute but the ensuing shot sailed over the crossbar, she could have choose any side of the goal. Trinidad continued to have their way, working the ball well on both flanks and down the middle but it was the flank plays that the Lady Jags found difficult in containing.
Excellent presence of mind from Bria Williams with one minute to go before the break saw the Lady Jags pulling one back, she capitalized on a bad pass from T&T goalie Kimika Forbes who attempted a quick pass to her teammate; Williams intercepted the ball with Forbes well off her line to hit in Guyana’s first goal. The half ended 4-1, the Lady Jags being able to keep the Soca Princesses goalless in the final 24 minutes whilst getting in a goal of their own.
Guyana’s plan in the second half was clear with El-Masri and Captain Ashley Rodrigues teaming-up up front as forward Otesha Charles fell back in defence. Sandiford brought off another clinical save in the 49th minute, parrying away a shot from Janelle Cunningham.
The Lady Jags looked much more alive and energetic in the second half as they threw all they had at their opponents. After keeping Trinidad quiet for 39 minutes, Cordner netted her second of the match and Trinidad’s fifth of the game; Sandiford did not take cleanly from a cross and the alert Cordner obliged in the 61st minute.
Enjoying a handsome lead, Trinidad made subs in the 64th(in Jo Marie Lewis, out Mariah Shade) and 65thminute (in Liana Hinds, out Janine Francois), even as Guyana looked their liveliest in the attacking third. In the 71st minute Guyana introduced forward Calaigh Copland for defender Kailey Leila. One minute later Trinidad brought in Victoria Swift for Tasha St. Louis.
The game had to be temporarily halted in the 73rd minute after the on field sprinklers unceremoniously sought to cool down the players much to the laughter of the fans and the amusement of the players and on-field officials. Guyana’s final; sub was made in the 77th minute, midfielder Dana Bally making way for defender Kayla De Souza.
Despite looking much more purposeful in the second half, the lead that the Soca Princesses had created was too much for the history making Lady Jags to pull back mentally and otherwise. The win for Trinidad cements their semifinal place on Friday CONCACAF’s best in the business, the USA.
At the post match, press conference Lady Jags Head Coach Mark Rodrigues acknowledged that the quickness of the Soca Princesses was too much for his side to handle.
“There’s a saying that speed kills, I think that was appropriate in today’s game, speed does kill.” He also noted that the tournament was an opportunity for the players to advance themselves.
Guyana made two changes from the side that faced Guatemala, Bria Williams and Dana Bally replaced Julia Gonsalves and Olivia Gonsalves in the starting line-up, defenders and midfielders respectively.
Guyana: 1. Chante Sandiford-GK, 2. Alison Heydorn-MD, 3. 6. Leah Romalho-DF, 7. Justine Rodrigues-DF, 8. Ashlee Savona-MF (15. Mariam El-Masri-MD-27th min), 9. Ashley Rodrigues-MD (Capt.), 12. Otesha Charles-FW, 13. Kailey Leila-DF (10. Calaigh Copland-FW-71st min), 14. Dana Bally-MD (4. Kayla De Souza-DF-76th min),20. Bria Williams-DF.
Subs not used: Briana DeSouza-DF, 5. Julia Gonsalves-DF,11.Brittany Persaud-MD, 17. Olivia Gonsalves-MD, 18. Simone Busby-GK, 19. Ruth George-GK. 16. Kelly Butler-DF (Out due to injury)
Trinidad and Tobago – 1. Kimika Formes-GK, 2. Jenella Cunningham-DF, 3. Mariah Shade-FW, 5. Arin King-DF, 6. Khadidra Debesette-MD, 9. Maylee Attin-Johnson-MD (Capt.), 10. Tasha St. Louis-MD, 11. Janine Francois-MD, 12. Ahkeela Mollon-MD, 14. Karyn Forbes-MD, 19. Kennya Cordner-MD.
Subs:4. Danielle Blair-DF, 7. Kayla Taylor-MD, 8. Victoria Swift-MD, 13. Naomie Guerra-MD, 15. Liana Hinds-DF, 16. Jo Marie Lewis-FW,
17. Anastasia Prescott-DF, 18. Shalette Alexander-GK, 20. Saundra Baron-GK.
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