T&T Women fall 3-0 to Curaçao; Hood discusses lessons of three-nation tournament

The Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team completed their Queen’s Friendly Tournament adventure last night with a heavy defeat, as they fell 3-0 to hosts Curaçao at the Stadion Rignaal “Jean” Francisca in Willemstad.

The Women Soca Warriors needed a draw at kickoff to win the three-nation tournament. Instead, they finished second with six points—one point shy of winners Aruba and two more than Curaçao.

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

Trinidad and Tobago coach Richard Hood was without his most dangerous player, flanker Ke’die Johnson, through suspension. The Warriors lost 1-0 to Aruba on Sunday night, so the coach shuffled his pack in search of the right result.

Chrissy Mitchell moved from holding midfield to her more customary role at full back, while left back Ariana Borneo replaced Johnson in the attacking position. And versatile attacker Alexcia Ali stepped aside, with teenagers Rasheda Archer and Cherina Steele starting in central midfield.

It was Archer’s senior international debut.

“We knew that a draw would be good enough to win the tournament,” said Hood, “but we felt that it was important to try and balance the team in such a way so we can still provide offensive threats and at the same time remain defensively organised at the back.

Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team head coach Richard Hood.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

“[…] The plan was not so much to press the ball high but to ensure their deep-lying midfielder and left side centre back didn’t have appropriate time on the ball to release their attackers. The plan was to starve them of the ball.”

Hood’s game plan lasted all of 26 seconds. In that time, the only two touches from Trinidad and Tobago players were disastrous.

Midfielder Asha James lunged in at the Curaçao playmaker but, unfortunately, she deflected the latter’s attempted pass perfectly in the path of their right winger. And, facing her goal, Warriors captain Victoria Swift hit past her own goalkeeper in an awkward attempt to clear.

“This was the worst possible start and it destroyed our game plan,” said Hood.

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.
Johnson missed T&T’s outing against Curacao on 3 June 2024 due to suspension.
Photo: TTFA Media

It got worse still for the Warriors in the 18th minute, when tigerish Curaçao midfielder Jeleaugh Rosa brushed Archer off the ball and beat Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Mikaela Yearwood with a stunning strike from outside the box.

The 19-year-old Rosa plays professionally in the German top flight with MSV Duisburg. And there was no questioning the quality of that strike.

Yearwood might have done better with Curaçao’s third, though, as opposing captain Kadisha Martina beat her at her near post with a speculative shot from the edge of the area. And Trinidad and Tobago were in real danger of being routed.

Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Rasheda Archer (right) tries to keep the ball from Curacao opponent Zyanne Barriento during Concacaf Women’s U-17 Qualifying action at the Stadion Rignaal Jean Francisca stadium in Willemstad, Curacao on 26 August 2023.
Archer made her senior international debut against Curacao at the same venue on 3 June 2024.
Photo: Victor Straffon/ Straffon Images/ Concacaf

“The organisation in the midfield was not what we planned and it was fairly easy for them to play through the midfield as a result of our positional play,” said Hood. “[…] We had two young, inexperienced players in there and the pressures of the big occasion and the nervousness I think got to them a bit.”

Hood replaced Archer with Ali before the interval, with the business-like Borneo moved into central midfield.

It was not the end of Curaçao’s scoring threat. The Dutch-speaking islanders hit the bar in the 54th minute, while Yearwood made a fine save to stop a fast break in the 73rd minute.

Trinidad and Tobago utility player Chrissy Mitchell.
(via TTFA Media)

But there would be no more goals in the contest.

Trinidad and Tobago had their fair share of the ball and did not look overawed generally. But they struggled against Curaçao’s quick transition and the hosts created far better scoring chances.

But teams ended the match with 10 players, after Rosa erupted in a confrontation with James which the Curaçao player initiated in the first place.

Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Asha James (right) runs with the ball

James would feel harshly treated by the referee, with some justification.

Incidentally, Curaçao engineered the fixtures so their team never played on successive days while Trinidad and Tobago and Aruba twice had to play two games in 48 hours. And the two Dutch-speaking nations rotated their players well, as required in the circumstances.

In contrast, Hood used only 14 players extensively while he gave 45 minutes or less to another three squad members. Four ladies never got on the field at all.

Trinidad and Tobago winger Alexcia Ali (foreground) tries to keep the ball during W Gold Cup qualifying action against Puerto Rico at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 27 October 2023.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

The Warriors coach explained that, while mandated to carry 14 teenagers and use the tournament for development purposes, he discovered a much higher level of play than anticipated.

And, in short, some of his younger players were not ready to face it.

“Both teams (Aruba and Curaçao) were littered with players from the Netherlands,” said Hood. “We had 13 kids; 15 and 16-year-olds. The intention was to play them all but when we saw the level of the opponents, that went out the window.

Flanker Mariah Williams (left) advances with the ball during RBNYFL All-Star action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Williams was an unused substitute throughout the 2024 Queen’s Friendly Tournament in Curacao.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

“[There is also] the fatigue factor with four games in six days. This tournament was brutal in that regard. This was against everything we know about human physiology as it pertains to performance and recovery.

“But having said that, the positives of having an opportunity to play international games outweighs the negatives. I think that this was important for the development and rebuilding of the programme.”

Hood commended the application and spirit of his players in Curaçao, and praised the leadership and stability provided by Swift, defender Shaunalee Govia and James.

Trinidad and Tobago forward Tori Paul (left) in action against Aruba in the Queen’s Friendly Tournament on 29 May 2024.
Photo: TTFA Media

“The tournament gave an opportunity for some of the younger, less experienced senior players like Alexcia [Ali], Chrissy [Mitchell], and Tori Paul,” he said. “I think Tori [Paul] was one of the revelations of the tournament. The other was seeing Ke’die [Johnson] work in a more advanced position—that would give us another dimension in the future.”

He suggested that some of their teenaged players showed their ability to compete at senior level too.

“I thought the tournament was fantastic for players like Ariana Borneo and Sonia Lamarre as well,” said Hood. “Cherina Steele demonstrated [against Curaçao] that she has the capability as well. These three players had outstanding tournaments.

Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Cherina Steele (right) tries to evade a challenge from a St Vincent and the Grenadines opponent during the Jewels of the Caribbean U-17 final at the Larry Gomes Stadium on 20 December 2023.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

“The goalkeeper, Mikaela, also grew from strength to strength and Kanika [Rodriguez] played all four games in six days, which is saying something.

“Kaitlyn [Darwent] suffered an injury in the first game and wasn’t able to play after that—but we saw in that first game a definite temperament and technical ability and organisation that we know we can use going forward as well.

“For these youngsters, this was a fantastic experience playing at a much higher level. There is a lot of development to be done; but if we do the right things, the future will be bright.”

Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team defender Kaitlyn Darwent looks for a passing option during her senior international debut against Aruba in the Queen’s Friendly Tournament on 29 May 2024.
(via TTFA Media)


Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 21.Mikaela Yearwood (GK); 15.Kanika Rodriguez, 8.Victoria Swift (captain), 2.Shaunalee Govia, 6.Chrissy Mitchell; 12.Cherina Steele, 10.Asha James [Red card 74]; 13.Sonia Lamarre (14.Orielle Martin 67), 11.Rasheda Archer (7.Alexcia Ali 40), 3.Ariana Borneo; 9.Tori Paul.

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

Suspended: 19.Talia Martin, 20.Kedie Johnson.

Coach: Richard Hood

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