T&T Under-20 Women Soca Warriors booked a spot in the CONCACAF finals after beating Puerto Rico 4-3 on sudden-death penalty-kicks following a 1-1 draw at the end of regulation and extra-time in their Caribbean Football Union third place playoff in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Friday.
T&T, with Celeste Thomas back in the team after missing the 2-0 loss to Haiti in the semifinal due to suspension, started brightly and dominated the midfield early, but it was the Puerto Ricans who grabbed the early goal in the sixth minute from the penalty-spot via Andriana Font.
The Renee Mike-captained U-20 Women’s Soca Warriors then had to change gears a bit and get back in the game, which they eventually did, when Chevonne John latched onto a Kedie Johnson cross to head home for a 1-1 score in the 24th minute, after which both teams failed to add to their tally in the first half.
The second half saw both teams going at each other with opportunities at both ends and this carried through until the final whistle in regulation time. In the extra-time period, the T&T women looked the stronger of both teams but failed to make their superiority count, which saw the match going into the dreaded penalty-kicks shoot-out.
In the penalties, T&T did not get off to the best of starts as Swasha Woznuk saw her attempt pushed onto the upright while Puerto Rico also missed.
Johnson then converted for T&T before vice-captain Naomie Guerrea’s attempt was saved followed by successful strikes from team-mates Kelsey Henry and Shaunalee Govia for a 3-3 score at the end of the first five attempts from each team. T&T goalkeeper Rebecca Almondoz saved Puerto Rico’s final kick, which would have seen the spanish-speaking squad advance.
John then stepped up and scored T&T’s first effort in sudden-death, while Puerto Rico hit the post to hand T&T victory and a place in the CONCACAF Finals to be held in Honduras, December 3-13. In the CFU U-20 final, host Haiti blanked Jamaica 2-0 with a goal in the 19th minute from Batcheba Louis and a second-half strike from captain Kensia Destinvil.
Three teams from the Concacaf eight-team finals will advance to the 2016 Fifa Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea.