Hood praises young team’s resilience, as T&T Women down Curaçao 3-1

A makeshift Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team made it two wins from two outings in the Queen’s Friendly Tournament last night, as they defeated hosts Curaçao 3-1 at the Stadion Rignaal “Jean” Francisca in Willemstad.

Women Soca Warriors head coach Richard Hood travelled to Curaçao with 12 uncapped teenagers and, once again, was encouraged by their returns.

Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team players celebrate after Shaunalee Govia’s winning goal against Aruba in Queen’s Friendly Tournament action in Willemstad, Curacao on 29 May 2024.
Photo: TTFA Media

Debutantes Sonia Lamarre and Cherina Steele got a goal each within the opening 45 minutes, as Trinidad and Tobago enjoyed more success on the harsh Willemstad turf—although it was not as straightforward as the score summary might suggest.

“Again, I’m very happy with the result—not so much the football,” said Hood. “I thought it was really important we pulled off that victory [last night] given the physical conditioning of the girls. All our senior girls struggled with having played 90 minutes last evening as well; and again on turf, which adds to the difficulty.

“The effort from the girls was tremendous and I’m very happy with that. They showed a lot of resilience although they were very much dead on their legs.”

Trinidad and Tobago defeated Aruba 2-1 just 24 hours earlier, while Curaçao players had an extra day to recover since they lost the tournament opener 3-2 to Aruba on Wednesday.

The Trinidad and Tobago starting team pose before kickoff against Aruba in the Queen’s Friendly Tournament at the Stadion Rignaal “Jean” Francisca in Willemstad, Curacao on 29 May 2024.
Photo: TTFA Media

Hood made just three changes to his starting line-up, with Ariana Borneo, Steele and Lamarre replacing left back Kaitlyn Darwent, midfielder Orielle Martin and flanker Alexcia Ali respectively.

The Women Warriors’ strategy seemed to hinge on passing between the lines and circulating possession before ultimately penetrating down either flank. It is an expansive model, which hinges on movement off the ball, patience on it and tactical discipline.

Naturally, with an experimental team, there were some frayed edges.

The Trinidad and Tobago midfield, after a turnover, failed to prevent Curaçao from springing a counter-attack and teenaged right back Kanika Rodriguez was correctly adjudged to have tripped the opposing flanker in the penalty box.

Trinidad and Tobago head coach Richard Hood grimaces on the touchline during his team’s clash with Puerto Rico in W Gold Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 27 October 2023.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

With just five minutes on the clock, Curaçao’s captain hit her penalty wide.

The Women Warriors were troubled in that way throughout the match, although Hood suggested that fatigue played some role.

“I thought the opponents really made it difficult for us by their style of play,” said Hood. “They forced us to run more than we would have liked [and] played a lot of long diagonal balls, trying to get behind us and turn around our defence—and that worked well for them for the most part.”

Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Asha James (right) runs with the ball during Queen’s Friendly Tournament action against Aruba in Willemstad, Curacao on 29 May 2024.
Photo: TTFA Media

At the other end, Trinidad and Tobago caused even more problems for their opponents though.

Midfield playmaker Asha James was not at her best. But forward Tori Paul’s movement off the ball and winger Ke’die Johnson’s surging runs on it terrorised the host team.

Paul should have opened the scoring in the seventh minute, after—like against Aruba—she showed her perceptiveness around the opposing defence to pick off a loose pass and round the opposing goalkeeper, only to hit wide.

Trinidad and Tobago forward Tori Paul (left) in action against Aruba in the Queen’s Friendly Tournament on 29 May 2024.
Paul has been one of the standouts for the Women Soca Warriors at the friendly competition.
Photo: TTFA Media

But, seconds later, the Warriors were ahead anyway. Johnson broke clear down the left flank and her cross was headed in at the far post by young Lamarre.

And, in the 14th minute, Steele pounced on a loose pass in midfield by an opponent before lifting her shot over the goalkeeper to double Trinidad and Tobago’s advantage.

The hosts pulled a goal back off a corner kick, just before the interval, and struck the bar twice. Yet, it was the Warriors who restored their two-goal advantage in the 65th minute, as Johnson worked a one-two with substitute Talia Martin before slapping home.

Trinidad and Tobago flanker Ke’die Johnson (right) passes for a teammate during Queen’s Friendly Tournament action against Aruba in Willemstad, Curacao on 29 May 2024.
Photo: TTFA Media

“I thought it was really important that we were able to score three goals [last night] and three quality goals as well, particularly given our fatigued state,” said Hood. “[…] I am happy with their resilience and their determination to win that game.”

Hood praised the attitude of his senior core—captain Victoria Swift and central defensive partner Shaunalee Govia, and the offensive trio of James, Johnson and 21-year-old Paul—in mentoring the younger players.

However, he was enthused at how his teenaged charges took their opportunities thus far.

Scarborough Secondary student Talia Martin (right) prepares to enter the field for her senior international debut for Trinidad and Tobago during a W Gold Cup qualifier against Puerto Rico at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 27 October 2023.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

“I think the future is really bright for the youngsters,” said Hood, “once we do the right things in terms of nurturing them and assisting with their development—getting them involved in more tournaments such as these.

“Again, all in all, I’m very happy.”

The Trinidad and Tobago Women return to action against Aruba from 7pm on Sunday before closing off their tour on Monday night against Curaçao. The games can be viewed live on CW Sport on YouTube.

Trinidad and Tobago players huddle before kickoff against Aruba in the Queen’s Friendly Tournament at Willemstad, Curacao on 29 May 2024.
Photo: TTFA Media

(Squad)

Trinidad and Tobago (4-1-4-1): 21.Mikaela Yearwood (GK); 15.Kanika Rodriguez, 8.Victoria Swift (captain), 2.Shaunalee Govia, 3.Ariana Borneo; 6.Chrissy Mitchell (14.Orielle Martin 75); 13.Sonia Lamarre (19.Talia Martin 60), 12.Cherina Steele (7.Alexcia Ali 46), 10.Asha James, 20.Ke’die Johnson; 9.Tori Paul.

Unused substitutes: 1.Maya Figgener (GK), 4.Kaitlyn Darwent, 5.Anastasia O’Brien, 11.Rasheda Archer, 16.Hackeemar Goodridge, 17.Mariah Williams, 18.Tayeann Wylie.

Coach: Richard Hood

Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Chrissy Mitchell in action against Aruba during the Queen’s Friendly Tournament in Curacao on 29 May 2024.
Photo: TTFA Media

Queen’s Friendly Tournament

(30 May 2024)

Trinidad and Tobago 3 (Sonia Lamarre 9, Cherina Steele 14, Ke’die Johnson 65), Curaçao 1 at Willemstad, Curaçao .

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