National Under-20 women's football team coach and T&T international, Dernelle Mascall says she still believes in the future of the current team despite its failure to advance to the eight-team 2023 CONCACAF U-20 Championships from May 24 to June 3 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
This after the young Women Warriors went under to Puerto Rico 5-0 in their must-win Group D decider in the Concacaf Women’s U-20 qualifiers at Rignaal Jean Francisca Stadium, Willemstad, Curacao on Wednesday night to end their dreams of reaching a first-ever FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup.
For Puerto Rico, Kennedy Garcia (27th, 83rd) and Enasia Colon (31st, 76th) each had a brace, while Ashley McMahon (51st) added a score to pace the Boricuas to the victory.
With the defeat, T&T finished second in the four-team round-robin pool with six points after blanking the Cayman Islands 3-0, and Guadeloupe 3-2 in their previous two matches inspired by Speyside High School's Talia Martin two goals in the opener, and a hat trick from Scarborough Secondary's J'Eleisha Alexander, with a hat-trick.
However, against the Puerto Ricans, Martin skied a penalty kick in the 54th minute while Alexander, the 2022 Secondary School Girls Football League ‘Female Player of the Year’ was also kept quiet despite key central defender Maya Berndt, missing the match for the Spanish-speaking opponents, after she was red-carded in her team’s 6-1 win over the Cayman Islands on Monday night.
Speaking after her team's exit from the tournament which featured 27 teams in six groups from which only the group winners qualified for next month's Concacaf U-20 Championship, Mascall was quick to point out the attention given to the Puerto Ricans by their federation as being a key difference in both teams.
She said, "Puerto Rico has invested in the women's game and is now reaping their rewards so we must give them credit but tonight (Wednesday), fitness, maturity, and experience were the deciding factor for us in the end."
With only one day rest between matches, Mascall also admitted that the quick turn-around after their closely-fought encounter worked against them as well.
She stated, "I think the game versus Guadeloupe took a lot out of us as they were physical and they actually matched our athleticism in some parts of the park."
Despite not getting the desired result, the 34-year-old Mascall praised the work being done at the lower level and painted a positive outlook for the team.
"The reality is that the core of this team was taken from our High-Performance programme where we have Ayanna Russell, and Marlon Charles as the head coaches, and they have been doing a great job working with these youngsters.
"In addition to that, most of the players still have another shot at the youth (U-20 level), and nine players are also still eligible for the upcoming U-17 tournament. So, the experience and exposure they gained here (Curacao) at this tournament, it will really augur well for the future of the women's programme, and I strongly believe that with ample time for preparation, this group of players are the ones to put us back on the map in the women's game."
In their previous matches, the Puerto Ricans blanked Guadeloupe 5-0 on Saturday and then spanked the Cayman Islands 6-1 in their second match on Wednesday, and now join automatic qualifiers, USA and Mexico, as well as Group Winners Panama, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic in the Concacaf U-20 Championships.
The two remaining groups to be decided are Group A (El Salvador/Canada), and Group F (Costa Rica/Guatemala/Nicaragua) which will determine the final two nations who will compete for top spots (finalists and third-place match winner) for next year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Under-20 women’s football coach Dernelle Mascall believes in squad’s future
By Jelani Beckles (T&T Newsday).
HEAD coach of the T&T Under-20 women’s football team Dernelle Mascall believes in her players although they were eliminated from the 2023 Concacaf Under-20 Women’s qualification tournament. Mascall said this squad can put T&T back on the map in the sport.
T&T lost 5-0 to Puerto Rico in their final Group D match on Wednesday in Curacao. The defeat meant T&T did not qualify for the 2023 Concacaf Under-20 Championships later this year. The championships would have given T&T an opportunity to qualify for the 2024 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup.
T&T won their first two matches of the qualification tournament before playing Puerto Rico. T&T eased past Cayman Islands 3-0 and then recorded a narrow 3-2 victory over Guadeloupe.
Mascall thanked the other coaches who were part of the preparation in the lead-up to the qualification tournament.
“The reality is the core of this team was taken from our high-performance programme where we have (coaches) Ayanna Russell and Marlon Charles. They have been doing a great job working with these youngsters,” Mascall told TT Football Association Media.
Most of the team will be around for years to come, said Mascall. “Most of the players here still have a shot at youth Under-20 level and nine players are still eligible for the upcoming Under-17 tournament.”
The T&T coach thinks her players have the ability to go far in the sport, but they need support. “The experience and exposure they gained here in this tournament I really think it augurs well for the future of the women’s programme and I strongly believe that with ample time for preparation, this group of players are the ones to put us back on the map in the women’s game.”
Mascall said Puerto Rico’s development of women’s football was one of the differences in the match.
“Puerto Rico has invested in the women’s game and they are now reaping the rewards so we must give them credit. Fitness, maturity and experience were the deciding factors for us in the end. The game versus Guadeloupe took a lot out of us. They were physical and they actually matched our athleticism in some parts of the park.”