Four years ago, the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team started their Canada 2015 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 10-0 rout of St Kitts and Nevis at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain.
The opponents and the venue were different this evening but the appetite for goals remained the same. As did the scoreline.
The United States Virgin Islands had the daunting prospect of being the Women Soca Warriors’ entrée today and the final result was again an eye-watering 10-0. By halftime, the host nation was already out of sight, a healthy six goals to the good.
In retrospect, it was a minor surprise that Trinidad and Tobago had to wait 16 minutes for the opening goal.
Head coach Jamaal Shabazz started with three central defenders and two wing-backs, which always looked excessively conservative against a team that often defended with all 10 outfield players.
USVI, coached by former Trinidad and Tobago international stand-out Izler Browne, were defending with 10 against seven then and the first 15 minutes passed comfortably enough. But then the visitors failed to deal with a left-side cross and Patrice Superville took full advantage with a composed, low finish.
In the words of former heavyweight champion “Iron” Mike Tyson, “Everyone’s got a plan ‘til they get punched in the mouth.”
USVI came forward like a drunk, fumbling in the dark for a light switch. And the affair was a mismatch after that.
Browne explained later why the USVI attack, nominally led by the talented Zola Kaza Saint-dic, often lacked numbers and conviction.
“You have to be respectful of who you are playing against,” said Browne, in the post-game media conference. “If we played an open game, we could have gotten 20…”
Five goals came in the final 10 minutes of the first half, Mariah Shade netting a fine double, captain Tasha St Louis getting one—to atone for two glaring misses—and defender Jenelle Cunningham joining in the fun with a thumping right-footer from the top of the opposing box.
However, the pick of the goals came from Karyn “Baby” Forbes. Her sledgehammer of a right boot is a familiar weapon in these parts but the angle and ambition of this strike took most by surprise—not least, the USVI goalkeeper, Levania Lawrence.
Forbes turned in off the left flank, within spitting distance of the touchline, and cracked the ball into the far post vee.
Like many goalkeepers have discovered before—and many will in the future—straying off your line is an unforgivable offence when “Baby” has the ball.
“She is becoming a really special player,” said Shabazz. “She has matured into a future captain… At any level of the game—men’s, women’s… even in Mars—that would be a great goal.”
Shade struck twice again in the second half to complete her beaver-trick while teenaged midfielder Kedie Johnson got her first senior competitive goal and USVI defender Katelyn Wiater inadvertently deflected in a Forbes corner kick.
Johnson, according to Shabazz, took advantage of the absence of talented US-based attacker Shanelle Arjoon from many of the pre-tournament sessions to seize a starting role and did herself justice. Arjoon had to settle for a role off the bench this evening.
Spritely 17-year-old attacker Aaliyah Prince did not get any minutes at all but, with five games scheduled in under two weeks, there is still a lot of action left in this phase of the tournament.
Shabazz, who bemoaned the absence of several Under-20 players—who are prioritising their studies and potential scholarships—expects to boost his squad’s depth in the later rounds with the likes of Kayla Taylor, Arin King, Khadisha Debesette, Kennya Cordner and Kimika Forbes while he still hopes to coax Maylee Attin-Johnson and Ahkeela Mollon into returning to international football.
But, as the USVI discovered, even a weakened Trinidad and Tobago team can be a formidable force at regional level.
On Monday evening, it will be the turn of Dominica, who lost to 1-2 to St Kitts and Nevis earlier today, to face the Women Soca Warriors. For such modest opposition, with the hosts in this mood, it must feel like facing the executioner.
Trinidad and Tobago (3-5-2): 1.Saundra Baron (GK); 4.Rhea Belgrave, 2.Ayanna Russell, 5.Jenelle Cunningham; 8.Patrice Superville, 11.Janine Francois, 14.Karyn Forbes, 16.Kedie Johnson (6.Natasha St Louis 83), 7.Jonelle Cato (12.Shanelle Arjoon 72); 10.Tasha St Louis (captain) (15.Taylor Mims 65), 9.Mariah Shade,
Unused substitutes: 20.Nicolette Craig (GK), 3.Anastasia Prescott, 13.Andrea Young, 17.Shaunalee Govia, 18.Naomie Guerra, 19.Aaliyah Prince,
Coach: Jamaal Shabazz
USVI (4-5-1): 1.Levania Lawrence (GK); 18.Maya Wright, 13.Katelyn Wiater, 14.Alison Bartsch, 12.Leslie Ann Harcrow (17.Kayla Feigenbaum 70); 8.Kelsey Montano, 15.Holly Herzig (10.Tamika Aguilar 85), 20.Misah Edwards (captain) (6.Ariel Stoltz 73), 16.Bianca Canizio, 11.Sierra Rivera; 9.Zola Kaza Saint-dic.
Unused substitutes: 2.Mikenzi Glover (GK), 3.Beladean Delgado, 4.Chamoya Buchanan, 5.Calisha Callwood, 7.Maggie Huang, 19.Isis Collier.
Coach: Izler Browne
Referee: Astrid Gramajo (Guatemala)
2019 World Cup qualifier
(19 May 2018)
Trinidad and Tobago 10 (Patrice Superville 16, Mariah Shade 36, 40, 81, 89, Karyn Forbes 37, Tasha St Louis 39, Jenelle Cunningham 43, Kedie Johnson 60, Katelyn Wiater OG 73), USVI 0 at Ato Boldon Stadium;
St Kitts and Nevis 2, Dominica 1 at Ato Boldon Stadium.