It was Soca vs Reggae for the second time of the tournament as Trinidad and Tobago took on Jamaica in Tier I Group A action in the 2023 CFU Girls’ U14 Challenge Series on Thursday night. The young Soca Warriors avenged an early group stage loss by edging out their Jamaican counterparts 2-1 at the ABFA Technical Center.
The contrasting styles were on display as Trinidad and Tobago looked to play through the lines in possession while Jamaica combined high pressing and direct play early in the match. Trinidad and Tobago’s Mia Lee Chong came close to opening the scoring in the 8’, but her free kick narrowly missed the top left-hand corner of the goal after Shakilla Hamilton was fouled just outside the penalty area.
Jamaica broke the deadlock two minutes later through a Jamara Jones conversion. Jones went on a blistering run down the left, leaving three defenders in her wake before cutting back on her favored right foot and unleashing a powerful strike past Amara Bhagan in goal for Trinidad and Tobago.
Trinidad and Tobago continued to stick to their game plan and were rewarded for their patience. Hamilton raced onto a pass after some intricate passing in midfield but was brought down illegally in the penalty area. Lee Chong made no mistake with the spot kick, slotting clinically to Amiya Grant’s left, drawing the teams level in the 17’.
Both teams traded attacks over the next few minutes until a defensive error by the Reggae Girls gifted their opponents a chance in the 23’. Hamilton was the first to react to the blunder and scored from close range—a typical poacher’s goal. Jamaica looked to respond immediately and Jones, now operating in the right, again used her pace to get in behind the defense, but her delightful cross eluded two teammates inside of the penalty area. The first stanza continued with half chances from both squads, but the Soca Warriors took a well-deserved lead into the break.
The young Reggae Girlz signaled their intent to chase the game with multiple halftime changes. Trinidad and Tobago found themselves pinned down in their own half straight away and a Rojauna Mills 37’ close-range effort was smartly saved by Bhagan, resulting in a corner kick.
Lee Chong looked to contain the rampant Jamaican attack by getting on the ball and pulling the strings in midfield. Hamilton should have doubled her personal tally in the 41’ but shot straight to a well-positioned Grant.
With time running away and still searching for an equalizer Jones continued her menacing runs at the Trinidad and Tobago defense, but the team from the Southern Caribbean continued to soak up the pressure.
As the second half wore on, Trinidad and Tobago were content to drop behind the ball being compact in defense. Lee Chong came up with some timely defensive interception to thwart wave after wave of attack by the Reggae Girls.
The referee’s whistle signaling the end of the game was greeted with much jubilation by players and supporters alike—Trinidad and Tobago prevailing 2-1.