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C/Rica edges T&T on penalties; Women Warriors face CONCACAF play off

The Trinidad and Tobago national senior team’s route to the Canada 2015 Women’s World Cup will be a little trickier now.

It took 120 minutes and six penalty kicks to separate the “Women Soca Warriors” from an excellent Costa Rica outfit in the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship semifinals this evening at the PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.

But, when the final whistle sounded, it was the Central Americans who celebrated while exhausted Trinidad and Tobago players slumped to the ground.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (left) tries to win the ball from Costa Rica striker Carolina Venegas during the 2014 CONCACAF Championship semifinal. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (left) tries to win the ball from Costa Rica striker Carolina Venegas during the 2014 CONCACAF Championship semifinal.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Penalty shoot outs are often referred to as lotteries; but it did not look as if Costa Rica left much to chance today.

Costa Rica custodian Dinnia Diaz, who will now have iconic status in her country’s women’s programme, saved all three efforts from Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson and substitutes Lauryn Hutchinson and Mariah Shade while the Spanish-speaking nation converted its own attempts for a decisive 3-0 shoot out triumph.

Costa Rica’s win means that, for the first time, a Central American team will participate in a senior Women’s World Cup competition. The “Ticos” will also play in the CONCACAF final at the same venue on Sunday.

For Trinidad and Tobago, Sunday represents the last chance this month to book a direct ticket to the Canada World Cup. The Warriors will play the loser of the second CONCACAF semi-final match, Mexico.

The top three CONCACAF nations will go to the Canada World Cup while the fourth placed team faces a two-legged Play Off against Ecuador next month.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Ahkeela Mollon (left) tries to win space from Costa Rica right back Diana Saenz during the 2014 Women's CONCACAF Championship. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Ahkeela Mollon (left) tries to win space from Costa Rica right back Diana Saenz during the 2014 Women’s CONCACAF Championship.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Mexico is unlikely to be a noticeably easier proposition than Costa Rica. The good news, though, is that Trinidad and Tobago’s ladies can and should be better by then; once they get tonight’s disappointment out of their system.

“We didn’t execute our game plan in the first half for whatever reason but, in the second half, we went back to what worked for us up to this point,” said Attin-Johnson, “which was playing with more intensity, grit, passion and heart.”

The official nickname for the representatives from the two island republic is the “Soca Princesses” but Attin-Johnson asked Wired868 to give that name a rest even before the tournament began.

“We are not Princesses,” said Attin-Johnson, during the pre-tournament camp. “We are Warriors. End of story.”

There can be no denying that the ladies lived up that sobriquet.

The Costa Rica team, mobile and inventive, was the better side this evening. But, until the shoot out, the Ticos just could not shake off a Trinidad and Tobago outfit that refused to lie down.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players (from left) Ahkeela Mollon, Maylee Attin-Johnson and Kennya Cordner try to close down Costa Rica playmaker and captain Shirley Cruz during the 2014 Women's CONCACAF Championship semifinal. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players (from left) Ahkeela Mollon, Maylee Attin-Johnson and Kennya Cordner try to close down Costa Rica playmaker and captain Shirley Cruz during the 2014 Women’s CONCACAF Championship semifinal.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Costa Rica looked to be swaggering on to the guest list of the Canada World Cup after the first 45 minutes.

Trinidad and Tobago trailed after just 18 minutes as opposing winger Wendy Acosta motored past right back Brianna Ryce and crossed for Costa Rica forward Carolina Venegas to divert home from close range. Warriors central defender Arin King, utterly dependable for much of the tournament, failed to track Venegas’ movement.

Acosta, Venegas and, most of all, playmaker and captain Shirley Cruz were peerless in the first half. But even more worryingly for Trinidad and Tobago coach Randy Waldrum was the sluggish performances of his midfield anchor Karyn “Baby” Forbes and veteran attacker Tasha St Louis.

Both were key players when the Warriors won the Caribbean Cup in August but have barely featured in the CONCACAF competition due to hamstring injuries.

Waldrum gambled that they would be fit enough to provide additional quality in this evening’s vital encounter. They did not; and both were replaced at halftime.

There was a change at right back too as Hutchinson was introduced to try and nullify Acosta while Ryce was pushed into midfield.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Tasha St Louis (right) controls the ball away from Costa Rica midfielder Katherine Alvarado during the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship semifinals in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Copyright Mitchell Leff/AFP 2014)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Tasha St Louis (right) controls the ball away from Costa Rica midfielder Katherine Alvarado during the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship semifinals in Chester, Pennsylvania.
(Copyright Mitchell Leff/AFP 2014)

But Hutchinson fared little better defensively as Acosta continued to run riot on the flank while the Warriors seemed constantly on the back foot.

Venegas should have doubled Costa Rica’s advantage in the 48th minute but missed an open goal after her teammate Raquel “Rocky” Rodriguez peeled off of King’s defensive partner, Rhea Belgrave, to tee her up.

Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Kimika Forbes, who was in outstanding form once more, denied Costa a minute later before making vital saves from Venegas and Daphnne Herrera in the the 51st and 57th minutes respectively.

But a second Costa Rican goal seemed a matter of when not if.

Coach Garabet Avedissian then decided to take a gamble of his own. And, in the 63rd minute, he replaced Venegas, the competition’s top scorer up until then, with Christin Granados.

Venegas has not been fully fit this tournament and the Costa Rica coach may have been looking forward to Sunday’s CONCACAF final when he took her off.

On cue, Costa Rica went down a gear and Trinidad and Tobago took full advantage of the reprieve.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago substitute Lauryn Hutchinson (centre) screams for joy after scoring the equaliser against Costa Rica in the 2014 Women's CONCACAF Championship semifinal. At right is defender Rhea Belgrave. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago substitute Lauryn Hutchinson (centre) screams for joy after scoring the equaliser against Costa Rica in the 2014 Women’s CONCACAF Championship semifinal.
At right is defender Rhea Belgrave.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

It was poetic justice when King, who had been tormented by Venegas, stepped up to create Trinidad and Tobago’s equaliser with a lofted free kick into the opposing penalty area in the 73rd minute.

Hutchinson went for the ball; as did Costa Rican players Rodriguez and Daniela Cruz. But Hutchinson wanted it more and she beat them both as well as the opposing goalkeeper, Diaz, with a speculative backward header.

It was a shot out of the blue for the team in white. Maybe God was a Trinbagonian after all.

“They had some good players and we allowed them to get in their possession rhythm in the first half, which was what we wanted to prevent,” said Attin-Johnson. “That put us under pressure. But we played and fought for each other in the second half and we were able to put pressure on them.”

Apart from some skillful flashes from winger Ahkeela Mollon, the Warriors rarely looked like adding to that goal though and Forbes twice made impressive saves to keep the scores level. While Acosta was unlucky to have an effort ruled offside after a Cruz (S) free kick deflected off T&T’s defensive wall.

Penalties, it seemed, would be Trinidad and Tobago’s best shot at getting to the World Cup this evening and there was genuine hope when the Warriors made it to the end of extra time. By then, Waldrum had just 10 players on the field as Belgrave was ejected for her second yellow card, which rules her out for Sunday’s fixture.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago substitute Mariah Shade (left) has her shot closed down by Costa Rica player Wendy Acosta in the 2014 CONCACAF Championship semifinal. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago substitute Mariah Shade (left) has her shot closed down by Costa Rica player Wendy Acosta in the 2014 CONCACAF Championship semifinal.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

And the Warriors did not cater for Diaz’s heroics. Over 120 minutes, the Ticos goalkeeper was never really tested apart from Hutchinson’s header. She was ready when the challenge came, though.

Katherine Alvarado converted the first penalty before Attin-Johnson stepped up for Trinidad and Tobago. The Warrior captain went to her right, just as she did against Guatemala. Diaz was waiting for her and made the block.

Diaz then went to her right to deny Hutchinson before returning to her left side to keep out Mariah Shade. And Costa Rica’s own efforts from the spot were flawless.

It meant that the Trinidad and Tobago women would have to wait until Sunday to, hopefully, qualify for their first World Cup tournament.

“I told my players we can still be the architect of our own destiny,” said Attin-Johnson. “Most importantly, the dream is still alive.

“We have to put this loss behind us and prepare our minds for Mexico (in the third place play off).”

(Teams)

Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 1.Kimika Forbes (GK); 16.Brianna Ryce, 4.Rhea Belgrave [Red card], 5.Arin King, 15.Liana Hinds; 14.Karyn Forbes (20.Lauryn Hutchinson 46), 9.Maylee Attin-Johnson (captain); 12.Ahkeela Mollon, 7.Dernelle Mascall (6.Khadidra Debessette 75), 19.Kennya Cordner; 10.Tasha St Louis (3.Mariah Shade 46).

Unused substitutes: 21.Tenesha Palmer (GK), 2.Ayanna Russell, 8.Patrice Superville, 11.Janine Francois, 13.Anique Walker, 18.Khadisha Debessette.

Coach: Randy Waldrum

 

Costa Rica (4-3-3): 1.Dinnia Diaz (GK); 5.Diana Saenz, 6.Carol Sanchez, 8.Daniela Cruz, 12.Lixy Rodriguez, 16.Katherine Alvarado, 10.Shirley Cruz (captain), 11.Raquel “Rocky” Rodriguez, 17.Daphnne Herrera (2.Gabriela Guillen 99), 9.Carolina Venegas (15.Christin Granados 63), 20.Wendy Acosta.

Unused substitutes: 18.Yirliana Arroyo (GK), 3.Mariane Ugalde, 4.Mariana Benavidez, 7.Gloriana Villalobos, 13.Noelia Bermudez, 14.Yesmi Rodriguez, 19.Fabiola Sanchez.

Coach: Garabet Avedissian

 

CONCACAF Women’s Championship

Semifinal round

(Fri Oct 24)

Costa Rica 1 (Carolina Venegas 18), Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Lauryn Hutchinson 73) at PPL Park, Chester;

*–Costa Rica won 3-0 on penalties;

United States 3 (Carli Lloyd 6, 30, Christen Press 56), Mexico 0 at PPL Park, Chester;

 

Upcoming fixtures

(Sun Oct 26)

Third Place Play Off: Trinidad and Tobago v Mexico, 3 pm, PPL Park, Chester;

CONCACAF Final: Costa Rica v United States, 6 pm, PPL Park, Chester;

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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26 comments

  1. tell this blightful gov’t officials to shut dey mouth and do offer them nothing until after they qualify pls even de man who has powers all ah them sour

  2. The Captain feels we should drop the Princesses sobriquet… We are Warriors. They really lived up to that name, but how will we distinguish them from the men? Perhaps ‘Warrior Queens’? We want them to be happy.

  3. I hope we will be celebrating as a nation come Sunday

  4. We took our 1st bite yesterday… we have two more bites of that cherry… let’s hope we only need one!

  5. Fat lady hasn’t sang…keep the spirit up….never say die attitude all the best..girls…stay focus…gods blessings

  6. Not giving up. This fat lady not ready to sing. Go Soca Princesses. Confident you can do this and make yourselves and your fans proud. May God go with you.

  7. Not quite the result we expected…but the ladies fought to the final whistle…true warrior spirit…..we battle again Sunday!!

  8. Blight.As soon as they touch them,they blight them !!

  9. Keep your head up ladies keep fighting stay positive

  10. This team has done an excellent job so far. After all, although Costa Rica played the better game the result could have gone either way so better luck on Sunday. Study the Mexicans like a final exam and please note that T and T is rooting for you. You have done us proud.

  11. D fat lady still home. No where ready 2 sing. Keep goin

  12. I’ll be viewing on Sunday too Lasana. Thanks for keeping us updated.

  13. Nothing to be ashamed of girls. Disappointed you may be but not ashamed. You all still have a chance on Sunday. I will be viewing.

  14. We have to make the right call regarding Tasha St Louis and Karyn Forbes this time. If they’re not ready, we might as well play without them.

    • Could never understand why coaches take players who are coming off injury to start in games that can end their careers and the careers of non-starters. Steven Hart should have been sent for to work with this team as well just as with the boys. A 4-5-1 would have been useful against what looked like 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 attack. Our Ladies back four got stretched across to leave open channels for their easy tap ins. Textbook error if not fixed for next game.

  15. They didn’t play well in the first half but put up a good fight in the second

  16. They’ve done a pretty good job

  17. Minor setback for a big comeback… gotta win on Sunday

  18. The number of headed goals this team is putting in is unbelievable in comparison to the Men’s Team. It shows real effort to contest in correct positions and even more quality to finish. Top four in CONCACAF I’ll take any day with what I have seen. Imagine, what is the women’s program really? WOLF is kinda iffy as well with funding and all and seriously- top four so far taking both finalists to the wire? Great job ladies.

  19. Scotty Ranking

    Despite the loss, these Warrior Princesses have done us proud. while putting their home association to shame. Well done, young ladies! May you steal a march on the Mexicans and qualify directly through defeating them!