FC Santa Rosa midfielder and QRC student John-Paul Rochford got his second goal of the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games tournament tonight; but it was a rare bright moment for the Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Under-20 Team, as they were overwhelmed 5-1 by hosts Colombia in their final group match in Barranquilla.
The junior Soca Warriors had no chance of advancing at kick off while Colombia were already into the semifinal and did not need a result. But Colombia never took their feet off the gas and coach Russell Latapy’s teenaged troops got a searing test of their capabilities.
Predictably, it was too tall an order against opposition of this quality.
There was reason to cheer in the women’s category, though, as the Women Soca Warriors advanced to the semifinal round without winning a match.
The Mexico women defeated Nicaragua 4-0 today, which left the Central American team and Trinidad and Tobago with a goal differential of minus four. However, coach Jamaal Shabazz’s team scored one more goal than Nicaraguans; and that one item by Liana Hinds—in their 5-1 loss to Mexico last week—separated the two nations.
Haiti should have been the fourth team in Group B but never made it there, due to travel issues.
So, Trinidad and Tobago progressed with just one point earned on the field—a 2-2 draw with Nicaragua—and will now tackle Costa Rica in Friday’s first semifinal contest. Mexico and Venezuela will contest the second semifinal match.
The CAC Games women’s football bronze medal match and final will take place on Monday 30 July.
In the men’s division, the two island republic representatives just were not good enough.
Latapy pointed out beforehand that it would be unreasonable to expect too much from his band of schoolboys and suggested that the tournament would serve only as a warm-up for the Caribbean leg of their 2019 Under-20 World Cup campaign in November.
If nothing else, the young Warriors saw what a talented team looks like from close up.
Trinity College East midfielder Nickel Orr appeared capable of swapping red, black and white for a yellow Colombian shirt, as his surging runs down either flank was Trinidad and Tobago’s only reliable offensive weapon.
St Anthony’s College defender Jessie Williams gave a decent account of himself too while US-based goalkeeper Jadel Poon-Lewis held Colombia at bay for as long as he could.
Otherwise, with few exceptions, Trinidad and Tobago were overrun.
After a string of fine saves, Poon-Lewis was left exposed from a corner kick in the 44th minute, as unmarked Colombia defender Juan Palma stabbed home from close range, after attacker Luis Sandoval dribbled past Darnell Hospedales to make a decisive squared pass.
Hospedales, a makeshift left back, again could not manage a block in the 54th minute, as Michael Lopez dribbled around him, only for his shot to rebound off the heel of the post. Sandoval was in the right place at the right time to tap in the loose ball.
Latapy turned to his bench with Tristan Hodge and John-Paul Rochford replacing Hospedales and Kierron Mason in the 58th and 59th minutes respectively.
Rochford had four goals and one assist from his last three outings for Trinidad and Tobago. And, remarkably, he halved the deficit within just three minutes.
Another Orr slalom run earned the Warriors a free kick on the edge of the opposing area; and Rochford’s curling effort, which went in off the inside of the near post, was unforgettable.
In the end, it proved just a consolation item, though. Attacker Julian Quiñones restored Colombia’s two goal advantage in the 67th minute, after gliding past opposing midfielder Jodel Brown to strike home from the edge of the area. And Quiñones got his second in the 76th minute, as he made light of Hodge’s presence to head past Poon-Lewis from a right side corner kick.
Colombia got their fifth and final item in second half stoppage time, as Ivan Rojas beat Poon-Lewis at his near post after a clever exchange by Jose Enamorado and Quiñones.
The scoreline did not flatter Colombia.
Latapy’s CAC Games adventure is over. Shabazz’s ladies have two more matches to prove themselves.
Trinidad and Tobago U-20 (4-1-4-1): 20.Jadel Poon-Lewis (GK); 2.Isaiah Garcia, 17.Jessie Williams, 4.Jerrin Jackie, 12.Darnell Hospedales (5.Triston Hodge 58); 8.Kierron Mason (15.John-Paul Rochford 59); 7.Mark Ramdeen (19.Shaqkeem Joseph 69), 10.Judah Garcia, 16.Jodel Brown, 13.Nickel Orr; 6.Isaiah Lee.
Unused substitutes: 1.Denzil Smith (GK), 3.Derron John, 9.Jayden Prowell, 11.Jarred Dass, 14.Rivaldo Coryat, 18.Ethan Bonaparte.
Coach: Russell Latapy
2018 CAC Games
(Tuesday 24 July)
Honduras 2 (Darwin Diego 63, Douglas Martinez 82), Costa Rica 1 (Andres Gómez 7) at Barranquilla;
Colombia 5 (Juan Palma 44, Luis Sandoval 54, Julian Quiñones 67, 76, Ivan Rojas 90), Trinidad and Tobago 1 (John-Paul Rochford 62) at Barranquilla.
(Tuesday 24 July)
Mexico 4 (Maria Sánchez 35, Katlyn Johnson 49, Veronica Corral 52 pen, Monica Monsivais 69), Nicaragua 0 at Barranquilla.