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Soca Princesses meet Costa Rica for World Cup spot
T&T’s Soca Princesses will try again to secure a first ever spot at a Fifa Under-20 Women’s World Cup when they face Costa Rica in their Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship third place playoff at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, George Town, Cayman Islands from 6 pm (TT time) today. This after the Izzler Browne-coached Soca Princesses failed in their first attempt at qualification after a 6-0 thumping by reigning Concacaf and Fifa U-20 World Cup champion USA in the second of two semifinals on Friday night. Earlier, Mexico whipped Costa Rica 3-1 in the other. T&T has never found themselves in such position in the women’s game, participating only in one Women’s World Cup, the U-17 version hosted in T&T in 2010. But now they have worked their way into a position where qualification is looming and coach Browne, an outstanding senior team player of the past, wants to see the dream realised. “This is what we’ve trained hard for, this is what we spend all these hours preparing and working towards,” she said on the eve of the match. The result against the USA was not a big surprise for most but team captain Anique Walker and her team-mates will be confident of bouncing back against Costa Rica and in the process qualify for Canada.
Going into the semifinal, Soca Princesses, who reached their first ever last-four after ending as runner-up in round-robin Group B play to Mexico were heavy underdogs against the Americans, winner of Group A with maximum nine points and 19 goals. And led Mc Kenzie Meehan and Stephanie Amack with two goals each, USA coasted to a record 14th straight tournament win enroute to qualifying for a record sixth straight World Cup. The USA went ahead as early as the 13th minute when Andi Sullivan delivered a left-sided cross to the far post that Katie Naughton intelligently headed across the face of the goal for an unmarked Meehan to head home from three-yards out. Savannah Jordan made it 2-0 in the 27th minute after she latched onto a clever through ball from Rachel Hill and fired past advancing T&T goalkeeper Keri Myers, getting her first start of the tournament in place of Tenesha Palmer. Six minutes later, Amack added to the USA’s when he fired into an open net from the edge of the 18-yard box after an attempt from Sullivan was blocked out by Myers’ feet on her near post.
The Soca Princesses who opted to rest key duo Khadisha Debesette and Patrice Campbell found themselves further behind six minutes before the interval via a free header at the back from by Amack off a long floated free-kick from Sullivan. On the resumption, T&T introduced Emma Abdul for midfielder Shanisa Camejo but the USA continued to pile on the pressure with Myers preventing any immediate addition to the scoreline with a block on Mallory Weber’s effort from 12-yards out in the 58th minute. However, seven minutes later the T&T custodian could do little to deny Meehan, a second as the USA striker was on spot to head home from close range after Weber sent a cross from the right that found the head of Summer Green, who headed back across goal to her team-mate. With the match out of its reach, Walker was replaced in the 68th minute with Akilah Sparks getting her first taste of action, while Summer Arjoon was an 82nd minute replacement for Khadidra Debesette, but the USA was not done yet, and Weber then got her name among the scorers in the 86th minute, hammering in Meehan’s re-direction off a short right-sided cross from substitute Margaret Purce to complete the one-sided contest and secure a place in today’s final for a chance at a fourth Concacaf crown after previous triumphs in 2006, 2010 and 2012.
Mexico 3 (Paloma Zermeno 32nd, Fabiola Ibarra 67th, Jessica Valdez 73rd) vs Costa Rica 1 (Jazmin Elizondo Villalobos 17th)
USA 6 (Mc Kenzie Meehan 13th, 65th, Stephanie Amack 33rd, 39th, Savannah Jordan 27th, Mallory Weber 86th) vs T&T 0.