The Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 women’s football team gave itself a massive chance of advancing to the knockout stage of a CONCACAF competition for the first time as the “Soca Princesses” downed Honduras 2-0 yesterday at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in George Town, Cayman Islands.
Two headers on either side of the interval from captain Anique Walker and Brianna Ryce paced the Princesses to a vital win in a fixture that was not necessarily as clear cut as the score summary might suggest.
In the second match of the Group B double header, Mexico scored four first half goals in a 6-0 rout of the Cayman Islands. The result gave the North American team an early lead in the group by goal differential over Trinidad and Tobago.
And, as both nations seek to avoid a semi-final match up with the United States, the world’s top female team according to the FIFA rankings, Trinidad and Tobago will aim to be even more severe to the host team when the Princesses face the Cayman Islands from 8.30 pm on Sunday night in George Town. Mexico is scheduled to tackle Honduras from 6 pm at the same venue.
Coach Izler Browne could have few complaints on the opening day as her teenaged squad produced when it mattered.
“It’s a great feeling to get off the mark in the first match,” said Browne. “I thought the girls worked hard and they deserved the victory. We knew we had to get a good start to keep our hopes alive and we did just that.”
Honduras produced the first threatening moment of the match in the 19th minute as Lauren Hill rifled an effort towards the top right hand corner which Trinidad and Tobago custodian Tenesha Palmer somehow managed to tip over her bar.
Hall came close again with a free kick near the half hour mark. But, by then, the Princesses had begun to assert themselves through Ryce and fellow midfielder Patrice Campbell.
And, in the 39th minute, Trinidad and Tobago struck first blood as Walker, a former 2010 Under-17 World Cup player, met a Campbell corner kick with a thumping header that went in off the underside of the bar, despite the best efforts of Honduras goalkeeper Kelin Palma.
The Princesses came out flying at the resumption of the second half and Palma did well to deny Donika Murray after another Campbell cross. But Campbell’s deliveries from wide areas undid Honduras again in the 49th minute and Ryce finished it off with a neat glancing header into the far corner that doubled Trinidad and Tobago’s advantage.
Ryce nearly made it 3-0 with a brilliant lobbed effort in the 58th minute although the Hondurans were incensed to have a “goal” ruled out by the offside flag in the 75th minute when it appeared that the final pass came off a Jonelle Warrick tackle rather than Honduras’ livewire, Hall.
There were no further incidents as the Trinidad and Tobago team held on to its two-goal advantage.
The Princesses, who are ranked 46th in the world by FIFA and fifth by CONCACAF, will hope to be much more prolific tomorrow when they face a less herald Cayman Islands team that is 118th in FIFA’s rankings and 31st from CONCACAF’s 33 member nations in the female game.
“Now it’s on to the next game against the host nation and we must maintain our discipline and complete the job again,” said Browne. “We have to remain focused and ensure we book our spot in the next round.”
CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s results
(Friday January 10)
Trinidad and Tobago 2 (Anique Walker 39, Brianna Ryce 49), Honduras 0 at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, Cayman Islands
Mexico 6 (Tanya Samarzich 6, 9, 35, Paloma Zermeno 24, 57, Amanda Perez 83), Cayman Islands 0 at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, Cayman Islands
(Sunday January 12)
Mexico vs Honduras, 6 pm, Truman Bodden Sports Complex, Cayman Islands;
Cayman Islands vs Trinidad and Tobago, 8.30 pm, Truman Bodden Sports Complex, Cayman Islands.