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It was a first for Trinidad and Tobago, beating up on someone other than Caribbean rivals in an international football match. El Salvador were the unlucky victims, impressively defeated 5-1 by the junior Soca Princesses on Friday night, when hosts T&T opened their bid to qualify for the 2008 FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup with an impressive victory at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya.

Captain Mariah Shade, Malick's Cassie McKenzie and Tobago's Karen Forbes, the "locals" in the national team, were the ones who got the big applause when American technical director Randy Waldrum announced the T&T starting line-up.

Some might have considered the other eight-the likes of US-based Jessica De Leon, daughter of former T&T great Leroy De Leon, and Canadian midfield generals Stephanie Williams and Sidonia Hoarea-as just "cousins" after they qualified to represent the country only because of their parents' ancestry.

But, by the end, all of the Soca Princesses had become "one family". And anything less than a full house when Trinidad and Tobago play their second Group A match against Costa Rica from 6 p.m. today at the Macoya venue would be a surprise after the favourable first impression they made.

A victory over Costa Rica would see T&T through to the last four of the tournament, from which the top three will automatically qualify for the inaugural Under-17 Women's World Cup to be played in New Zealand in October.

However, victory will have to be hard-earned as Costa Rica will be desperate, having lost their opening match 6-0 to the Americans, in the first game of Friday's double-header.

The Costa Ricans looked skilful, but were no match for the "huge" American girls. Until then, technical director Waldrum has warned T&T's young women to take one match at a time.

"We were hopeful of a good performance and it's fair to say we got that," Waldrum said after Friday's match. "It's a great way to start with the win. It was important too for the fans to come out and give us the support. It meant a lot to the girls. I'm just happy to get the thing off with the win. We told the girls in tournament play you have to take it one game at a time."

The senior men's national team would have been envious of the standing ovation which the Under-17s received when De Leon struck a bullet from an acute angle to give Trinidad and Tobago a 3-1 advantage. People were jumping, yes, jumping in the stands.

De Leon (34th and 38th) scored twice for Trinidad and Tobago, while captain Shade (15th and 33rd) got the first two goals. Later, McKenzie (84th) produced a skilful turn, before hitting a shot off the left upright for the Soca Princesses' fifth goal. It would have been a shutout except for an error by T&T goalkeeper Saundra Baron.

Attempting to punt the ball upfield, Baron hit the back of her central defender Forbes, giving El Salvador skipper Adriana Flores an open goal in which to pull the visitors level at 1-1 in the 16th minute.

Baron made up for the error with good handling for the rest of the match, although it's obvious her kicking needs work. Shade put Trinidad and Tobago ahead in the 15th, scoring a downward header at the back post from Natasha Prentice's cross.

But even though Baron's mistake had El Salvador level a minute later, the home team were ahead again in the 33rd when Shade reached Hoareau's through ball before keeper Irma Melara.

Left midfielder De Leon then netted twice in four minutes, first with an angled shot and later side-footing Williams' corner from close up. McKenzie converted from just outside the penalty area to round off the scoring, but El Salvador were lucky not to concede a few more.

Overall, it was a good showing from Trinidad and Tobago, in which everyone played well. And several new T&T stars also emerged.

Arin King looked composed in central defence, while hard-kicking central defender Forbes struck most of the dead balls and hit the El Salvador crossbar from more than 35 metres out.

Striker Prentice has an impressive long throw, while Hoareau showed an impressive array of passes from central midfield and on the right where she started. The stoute Williams dominated central midfield, winning most balls there and also spaying an array of passes before she was injured and Hoareau took up the position.

Final Score

T&T 5 (Mariah Shade 15, Natasha Prentice 33, Jessica DeLeon 35, 38, Cassey McKenzie 84), v El Salvador 1 (Adriana Melissa Flores 17)

Teams

Trinidad & Tobago:
- 1-Saudra Baron, 2-Taylor Mims, 3-Latifa Kelly, 4-Rhea Belgrave, 5-Arin King, 7-Jessica DeLeon, 9-Stephanie Williams (19-Shakirah Salandy 56th), 10-Mariah Shade (capt) (16-Shahamin Nunes 73rd), 11-Sidonia Hoareau, 13-Natasha Prentice (6-Tiana Bateau 76th), 14-Karyn Forbes, 17-Cassey McKenzie.

Booked: Mims 45, Belgrave 82

Subs not used - 3-Latifa Kelly, 8-Afiyah Matthews, 12-Camille Pereira, 21-Daystar Swift

Head coach - Randy Waldrum

El Salvador: - 1-Irma Maria Melara, 2-Telma Ivania Ramirez, 3-Estefania Marciela Hernandez, 6-Rosa Margarita Merino (5-Ericka Mariela Sanchez 12th) (15-Maria Angel Siguenza 55th), 7-Estefany Esmeralda Aldana, 8-Alba Yessenia Dueñas (18-Adriana Estephania Miranda 66th), 9-Adriana Melissa Flores (capt), 10-Karen Elizabeth Landaverde, 12-Francisca Del Carmen Gonzalez, 16-Ingrid Estefany Fuentes, 17-Lilian Ayala.

Booked: Siguenza 82

Subs not used - 4-Claudia Landverde, 13-Kala Tutila, 14-Laura Molina, 25-Maria Rodriguez

Head coach - Julio Ramos

Officials

R: Quetzalli ALVARADO (MEX)
A1: Milena LOPEZ (CRC)
A2: Shirley PERELLO (HON)
FO: Carol Anne CHENARD (CAN)

Group A

GP/PJ W/G L/D T/E +/- PTS

USA 1 1 0 0 6:0 3
Trinidad & Tobago 1 1 0 0 5:1 3
El Salvador 1 0 1 0 1:5 0
Costa Rica 1 0 1 0 0:6 0

Group A Results

18.7.2008 Costa Rica - USA 0:6 (0:4), Macoya, TRI
18.7.2008 Trinidad & Tobago - El Salvador 5:1 (4:1), Macoya, TRI

Group B

GP/PJ W/G L/D T/E +/- PTS

Mexico 2 2 0 0 10:0 6
Canada 2 2 0 0 7:3 6
Jamaica 2 0 2 0 3:10 0
Puerto Rico 2 0 2 0 0:7 0

Group B Results

17.7.2008 Puerto Rico - Canada 0:3 (0:1), Bacolet, TRI
17.7.2008 Mexico - Jamaica 6:0 (4:0), Bacolet, TRI
19.7.2008 Mexico - Puerto Rico 4:0, Bacolet, TRI
19.7.2008 Canada - Jamaica 4:3, Bacolet, TRI

Today

USA vs El Salvador, 4 p.m., Marvin Lee Stadium

T&T vs Costa Rica, 6 p.m., Marvin Lee Stadium

Tomorrow

Jamaica v Puerto Rico, 5 p.m., Dwight Yorke Stadium

Canada v Mexico, 7 p.m., Dwight Yorke Stadium


 

Five-star start for T&T girls.
By: Shaun Fuentes (TTFF).

     
Hosts Trinidad and Tobago opened its final round campaign in the CONCACAF Women’s Under 17 Championship with a convincing 5-1 victory over El Salvador in the second game of a double header at the Marvin Lee Stadium on Friday evening.

The “Soca Princesses” kept up the pace with a polished showing after the Americans also dominated Costa Rica in the opening fixture to come away 6-0 winners. The  results now mean that a win for either of these two teams in Sunday's next set of matches could seal their semi-final spots.

The US used two goals each from Samantha Mewis and Courtney Verloo, and one apiece from Julia Roberts and Victoria DiMartino to kick off Group A at the 2008 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship.

With the victory, the United States earns three points heading into the second match of the tournament, where they will take on El Salvador at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 20, also at Marvin Lee Stadium. The U.S. sits in first place in Group A, after Trinidad & Tobago defeated El Salvador, 5-1, in the second match of the evening.

 “Winning the first game of a tournament of this nature is very important for us,” head coach Kazbek Tambi said in the post match press conference “The team played very well, they ball moved very well today and we scored on some nice combination plays. Even though the score was 6-0, Costa Rica is an excellent team. They are technically proficient and their forwards can hold the ball very well. We just happened to score some very good goals, but I still believe they are a quality opponent.”

In the second game, coach Randy Waldrum’s girls were facing Concacaf competition for the first time but settled inside the opening ten minutes to take control of proceedings despite giving up an equalizing goal cheaply. The hosts went ahead on 15 minutes when a deep right side cross by Natasha Prentice was perfectly headed home on the far post by skipper Mariah Shade.

But T&T’s celebrations were short-lived when two minutes later goalie Saundra Baron’s blooper as she tried to clear the ball up field led to Adriana Flores picking up the loose ball and slotting home with Baron way out on the edge of her box.

The second goal took some sting out of T&T but they persisted and deservedly took a commanding lead by the half time interval. The combination of right winger Sidonia Horeau, Cassey McKenzie and Shade was causing the El Salvador defense a whole lot of problems. On the other end Arin King and her defense were keeping things solid at the back for T&T.

Midfielder  Prentice’s firm challenge won possession in the middle of the field and she sent Hoareau out on the right and she played the return to Prentice who rushed in to slip past Irma Melara. A minute later T&T Jessica De Leon, on a second crack after her initial cross was blocked, unleashed a left footer which flew past Melara on her near right post to send T&T 3-1 ahead.

And then three minutes later, in the 38th, Stephanie Williams’ left side corner ended up in the net being turned in by De Leon to put the game out of El Salvador’s reach.

The game continued with  El Salvador taking on more possession in the second half but they never threatened T&T’s lead. Eight minutes before the end Karyn Forbes’ 30 metre free kick rocked the El Salvador cross bar. The final goal came in the 84th when McKenzie was found by Horeau and she sent one low to the left of the goal which beat a hapless Melara and went in off the post.

“I think it was just the start we needed in the tournament and credit must go out to all the players and the staff for this. We were hopeful of a good performance and it’s fair to say we got that. It’s a great way to start with the win. It was important too for the fans to come out and give us the support It meant a lot to the girls. I’m just happy to get the thing off with the win. We told the girls in tournament play you have to take it one game at a time,” coach Waldrum said after the win.

T&T/El Salvador, Match Stats

Goal Attempts: 10 – 6
Shots on Target: 7 – 4
Saves: 3 – 4
Fouls: 8 – 9
Corner Kicks: 6 – 3
Offsides: 1 – 0

Post Game Comments

USA Head Coach Kazbek Tambi : "Winning the first game of a tournament of this nature is very important for us.The team played very well, they ball moved very well today and we scored on some nice combination plays. Even though the score was 6-0, Costa Rica is an excellent team. They are technically proficient and their forwards can hold the ball very well. We just happened to score some very good goals, but I still believe they are a quality opponent." 

T&T Head Coach Randy Waldrum: "I think it was just the start we needed in the tournament and credit must go out to all the players and the staff for this. We were hopeful of a good performance and it's fair to say we got that. It's a great way to start with the win. It was important too for the fans to come out and give us the support It meant a lot to the girls. I'm just happy to get the thing off with the win. We told the girls in tournament play you have to take it one game at a time."
 
El Salvador Assistant Coach Marcial Turcios: "First we want to congratulate the organizers of this tournament. Everything has been in place. For the match... Trinidad were the superior team today and they deserved the result. We didn't play very well. We now have to regroup and try to win our next match on Sunday to keep our chances alive. It will be another tough game but we will try to be ready."

T&T Number 11 Sidonia Hoareau: "Speed kills and I think it's important to incorporate speed in everything you do which is what I tried. The win was a good start for us. The girls played well and we were pleased to come away with this result. Hopefully we can take it into the rest of our matches." 

T&T Number 10 Mariah Shade: "The team really gelled while were in Tampa and that showed out there today. It was a plus for me to score the first goal for us today. I think we can be confident now for the game on Sunday and go for a win which will hopefully put us into the semi-finals." 

T&T Number 7 Jessica De Leon: "We (Jessica and father Leroy De Leon) had a phone call and he came to the hotel before. He told me that if I play like I always play then it should be a good game. He told me to just play like a De Leon... those were his words. I think we will get better by game. We came out strong and I think this will continue as the tournament goes on. At first I was nervous looking up at the crowd but we got into the game after the kick off. Things went well for us from there on."