Without two of their most inspirational attackers, host Trinidad and Tobago rallied to defeat Puerto Rico 1-0 to claim the top spot in the 2015 CFU Olympic qualifying stage at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
A week ago former captain Maylee Attin-Johnson and Tobago-born striker Kennya Cordner refused to play for their country under current team manager, Sharon O’Brien. The pair also complained about personal problems with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), among other personal issues.
The move however, did not stop the current team form going for glory as the Soca Princesses dug deep to finish the Olympic qualifying stage tournament unbeaten and at the same time claimed the CFU title for a second straight year.
The Lady Warriors demolished St Lucia on a 14-1 aggregate two-legged series to breeze into the Caribbean semifinal round. Took care of Jamaica with a come from behind 2-1 win. Then sealed a narrow 1-0 victory over Puerto Rico to regain the title.
Karyn Forbes 24th minute goal was enough to separate both teams. Although, Puerto Rico did have their moments, T&T were solid at the back and made sure they were victorious on the night.
Foreign-born defenders; captain Arin King and Lauryn Hutchinson marshalled T&T defence and took care of everything Puerto Rico threw at them. Talented goalkeeper Kimika Forbes, the sister of Karyn, kept them at bay, while, midfielder's Ahkeela Mollon and Tasha St Louis used their experience to nullify any Puerto Rican attacks, while piling on the pressure at the same time.
In the end, T&T held on for the victory and though there where no champagne to celebrate with, the ladies made use of their water bottle pouring it on each other as they dance their way to glory.
“We were pleased to come away with the result tonight. I think the players deserve full credit for their efforts. It was not an easy tournament but the main thing is that we were unbeaten and we topped the region,” interim coach Anthony Creece told TTFA Media.
Defender Arin King also told the TTFA Media: “It was definitely a battle. We had a lot of outside noise in our heads but we stayed focused on the task at hand . We fought for one another and that’s what taken us to the next round.
“We need to stay committed and we need our preparation for the next round. We have the heart, desire and passion to play. We know what we need to do for the next phase.”
Guyana meanwhile, pulled of a shock when they also booked a place into the next round with a 2-1 victory over favourites Jamaica.
Tashana Vincent would open the scoring in the 44th minute giving Jamaica the early lead before Guyana responded minutes into the second half in the 48th minute with a strike from Mariam El-Masri. The winning goal would come in the 73rd minute from Brittany Persaud who would give the Lady Jags a 2-1 victory over Jamaica.
As for T&T, they will now take a short break before they resume training in preparations for their high-profile exhibition matches against the United States on December 6th and 10th, both games will be played in Hawaii and Houston respectively.
The next phase of the CONCACAF competition will follow in February 2016 and with the TTFA elections closing in on November 29th is leaves a question mark whether top-coach Randy Waldrum will rejoin the team for the tournament. Same can be said for troubled Maylee Attin-Johnson and Kennya Cordner.
One thing's for certain is, the Women Warriors are through to the next rounds, they have brought glory to their country once more and, with little, very little financial support from their employers.
Congrats to coach Anthony Greece and the entire team, from the Soca Warriors Online (SWO).
Trinidad and Tobago: 1.Kimika Forbes; 13.Annalis Cummings, 20.Lauryn Hutchinson, 5.Arin King (capt), 2.Danielle Blair; 8.Naomie Guerra (15.Victoria Swift 64th), 6.Khadidra Debesette; 12.Ahkeela Mollon, 14.Karyn Forbes, 19.Chevonne John (11.Janine Francois 63rd); 10.Tasha St Louis.
Unused substitutes: 17.Nicolette Craig (GK), 3.Melissa Woo Ling, 4.Daniella Findley, 7.Dernelle Mascall, 9.Sharain Cummings.
Coach: Anthony Creece.
Puerto Rico: 1.Karly Gustafson; 17.Adriana Font, 14.Ashley Marie Rivera, 7.Delyaliz Rosario Amber (capt), 4.Jacqueline Marie Cruz; 20.Britanny Cruz, 10.Laura Suarez; 16.Alejandra Carrion (11.Annie Lee Mendez 46th), 19.Stephanie Colon (18.Nicole Rodriguez 46th), 6.Scout Benson (8.Selimar Pagan 64th); 9.Karina Socarras,
Unused substitutes: 13.Sandra Rolon (GK), 2.Franchelies Alvira, 3.Nashila Class, 5.Noella Reyes, 12.Antonella Monreal.
Coach: Garabet Avedessian.
Referee: Annia Navarrete (Cuba).
Video: - Post Match Reactions after T&T Women defeat Puerto Rico to top CFU Olympic Qualifiers
2016 Olympic Qualifying Caribbean Zone Full Results -
(All games were played at the Ato Boldon Stadium)
(Friday November 13)
Trinidad and Tobago 6 (Ahkeela Mollon 3, 66, Tasha St Louis 10, 33, 38, 58) v St Lucia 0
(Sunday November 15)
Trinidad and Tobago 8 (Ahkeela Mollon 12, 12, 81, 83, Lauryn Hutchinson 23, 26, Naomie Guerra 65, Sharain Cummings 87) v St Lucia 1 (Ellaisa Marquis 58-Pen).
(Wednesday November 18)
Puerto Rico 1 (Karina Soccarras Villalonga 119) v Guyana 0.
Trinidad and Tobago 2 (Dernelle Mascall 60, Tasha St Louis 91) v Jamaica 1 (Jodi-Ann McGregor 44-Pen).
(Friday November 20)
Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Karyn Forbes 24) v Puerto Rico 0.
Third Place Play-Off
Guyana 2 (Mariam El-Masri 48, Brittany Persaud 73) v Jamaica 1 (Tashana Vincent 44).
Forbes scores winner as Women Warriors top CFU Olympic qualifiers.
By Nigel Simon (Guardian).
Karyn Forbes got the lone goal as T&T Women Soca Warriors battled past Puerto Rico 1-0 to top their Caribbean Football Unions Olympic Qualifiers at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on Friday night.
Both T&T and Puerto Rico, entered the match already assured of places in next year’s eight-team Concacaf final round event from February 10-21 in Houston, USA, after recording extra-time semifinal wins over Jamaica (2-1) and Guyana (1-0), respectively, at the same Couva venue on Wednesday night.
On Friday, it took a clinical finish from Forbes in the 24th minute to decide the contest, as she latched onto a through ball, before firing past the advancing Karly Gustafson in goal for Puerto Rico. T&T veteran midfielder Tasha St Louis then had two chances to add to her team’s lead before the half-time interval, however she failed on both occasions.
First, St Louis headed overbar from on the six-yard line off a precise right sided cross from livewire Ahkeela Mollon in the 32nd, and four minutes later she raced through on goal, only for a her right footed effort to be parried away by goalkeeper Gustafson.
At the other end of the field, the T&T defensive trio of captain Arin King, Lauryn Hutchinson and Danielle Blair, restricted the Puerto Ricans to long range efforts which were easily handled by goalkeeper Kamika Forbes, when on target.
Seven minutes into the second-half, Forbes (Karyn) wasted a chance for her and T&T’s second, when she blasted high over bar from inside the 18-yard box, after being put through by a clever Khadidra Debesette pass, with a her back to goal from a flighted St Louis pass.
Puerto Rico almost made T&T rue its missed effort as substitute Annie Lee Mendez beat the offside trap and raced in on goal but goalkeeper Forbes was alert to the play and raced off her line to deflect the striker’s attempt onto the crossbar.
St Louis then had another chance to add to T&T’s lead from a Mollon long ball, but her turn and left footed shot was well covered by Gustafson, diving low to her right.
With five minutes left in the match, Puerto Rico had another chance to get on the scoresheet, but substitute Selimar Pagan, after running onto a through ball from Laura Saurez, from almost the half line hit wide of the far post. T&T then created a few other chances through Mollon, but in the end, the Anthony Creece-coached Women Soca Warriors came away deserved winners.
Up next for the Women Soca Warriors is a friendly encounter against Concacaf powerhouse USA in Honolulu, Hawaii on December 6. Speaking after the win, Creece said he was pleased that his team was able to get the job done on the night.
“Coming off of the tough extra-time semifinal win over Jamaica, all the girls were a bit tired and while tonight we could have put away other chances to make it easier, I’m still satisfied with the performance,” said Creece.
“The sport of football is all about results and sometimes you will get lopsided wins and sometimes you have to grind out results, and tonight was just one of those where we had to dig deep.”
Looking ahead Creece said the team will resume training next week in preparation for the match away to USA and he was also expecting a few other overseas-based players to join the team.
With regards to former captain Maylee Attin-Johnson and striker Kennya Cordner who opted not to play due to a dispute with team management, Creece said the door was open to all. In Friday’s first match, Guyana stunned Jamaica 2-1 to secure the third CFU spot to the Concacaf qualifiers.
Jamaica took the lead a minute before half-time through Tashana Vincent, but Guyana hit back with second-half items from Mariam EL Masri (48th) and Brittany Persaud (73rd) to pull off the upset.