Fri, Sep

Aruba Girls U-14 vs Trinidad and Tobago Girls U-14 at the ABFA Technical Center in St. John’s, Antigua on Saturday, August 27th 2023.

A penalty shootout was needed to determine the winner of the second semifinal in the 2023 CFU Girls’ U14 Challenge Series. Playing for the right to face Puerto Rico who had earlier booked their place in the finals, Aruba prevailed 5-3 after 70 minutes were not enough to separate the sides.

Aruba started the brighter of the teams in the Tier I encounter at the ABFA Technical Center, pressing and pressuring their opponents. A 6’ Lorendana Nepi Perez free-kick went over the wall, but the Trinidadian keeper Amara Bhagan was well positioned to comfortably make the save.  Meantime Zyana Rogers closed down the Trinidad and Tobago back line, leaving them little time to play out the back.

The young Soca Warriors weathered the initial storm and started to push back the Aruban offensive, enjoying a decent spell of possession. Mia Lee Chong, as always, was close to the action looking to combine with Shivanni Saroop and Scarlett Cole centrally as well as the pacey Jayda Herbert operating on the right side.  The Lee Chong and Saroop combination almost gave Trinidad and Tobago the lead in the 23’, but Saroop came up agonizingly short on getting on to a well-placed free kick from Lee Chong.

Kimani Wallace displayed some textbook 1v1 defending in the 28’ denying Rogers a goal scoring-chance after she was expertly picked out by Nepi Perez. Rogers was in on the action five minutes later, but her effort from just inside the penalty area went wide of the target.  Aruba ramped up the pressure as the first stanza wound down, and Rogers had another chance blocked just before halftime.  Trinidad and Tobago held their nerve to go into the break all square.

Aruba looked to go on the offensive immediately on resumption, but Sharienne Vrolijk shot over the crossbar after a Nepi Perez corner kick created some indecision in the Sosa Warriors’ penalty area.  Halftime introductions Shakilla Hamilton, Mikalah Guerrero and Gyasi Lewis for Trinidad and Tobago brought some energy to the attack, with both Hamilton and Lewis keeping the Aruba back line honest. 

Trinidad and Tobago, now in the ascendency, were almost caught out on the break when Rogers ran onto a clearance by her defensive line, but the forward could not keep her shot on target.

The Trinidad and Tobago skipper Hackeemar Goodridge had to handle Rogers in another 1v1 duel to deny the Dutch forward the opening goal of the contest. 

With both teams pressing for the win and space opening up, Hamilton went on a foraging run but Tyanne Rafael, in goal for Aruba, was equal to the task, pushing the forward’s shot away for a corner kick. 

Rafael pulled off the save of the match in the 62’, stopping Taya Williams’ firmly struck shot from close range. Passage to the final should have been booked for the Soca Warriors in the 70’.  A long ball over the Aruban defense saw Lewis outpace the defense and with Rafael electing to stay on her line, Lewis shot over the crossbar, spurning a chance they would later rue.

With 70 minutes not enough to separate the teams, penalty kicks were on the cards.  Aruba kicked first and had conversions from Vrolijk, Nepi Perez, Niamey Tromp, Dariella Leerdam and Rogers.  Trinidad & Tobago replied with Lee Chong, Guerrero and Herbert.  Skipper Hackeemar Goodridge hit her penalty kick narrowly wide of goal. 

Aruba celebrated and now look to take on Puerto Rico in the Tier I final on Sunday morning at 8:30 am.