Mariah Shade, scorer in each of T&T’s four matches, picked up the MVP award after this country created history on Tuesday night to win the inaugural Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Women’s Caribbean Cup, which came to a fitting end with a 1-0 win over rival Jamaica.
Hundreds of supporters who turned up in support of T&T’s senior women’s team at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, remained until the end of the ceremony to acknowledge the efforts of Shade and two other “Soca Princesses,” the unbeaten goalkeeper Kimika Forbes and top goalscorer, Tasha St Louis, who were spectacular in T&T’s run through the tournament having not conceded a single goal, while scoring a total of 21.
Shade, who scored one against St Kitts, a brace against Antigua and Barbuda and another pair of goals against Martinique, recorded perhaps one of the most memorable goals of her career in the final against Jamaica, which was otherwise an evidently difficult encounter for the forwards of both teams. The US-based player did brilliantly to trap, in stride, an equally stunning lobbed pass from St Louis, on the right of the penalty area to push forward, strike and score past Nicole McClure.
Jamaica forced Forbes into one save for the entire match in the second half, thanks to the astute defending of Arin King.
King, who featured at centre back for T&T may well have been front runner for a “Most Valuable Defender” award had it been offered by the CFU. While Jamaica found it difficult to break through, the “Reggae Girls” did, in fact, do so on two clear occasions but King came to the rescue with breathtaking sliding challenges to throw the Jamaican attackers off.
She was also consistently composed and able to play her way out of defense comfortably and without panic to restart play. She won as much or even more applause from the crowd as the attackers. On one such occasion in the 20th minute, King came up massive to spoil Jamaica’s leading scorer Shika Duncan’s clear look at goal, with a heavy challenge after the striker was sent through with a clever pass from a counter attack.
On the other end, unfortunately one of the highest rated players of the tournament, Kennya “Yaya” Cordner could not stand out as she did in two of the previous three matches. This was even acknowledged by T&T’s head coach Randy Waldrum in the post match media conference, where he suggested that Jamaica had done its homework in keeping tabs on the potent forward. Cordner, who scored within 45 seconds in T&T’s 7-0 win over Martinique on Sunday, was marked by at least two Jamaican players almost entirely throughout the contest. She did, however, assist in creating a couple of half chances.
While shots on goal were at a premium and with T&T trying for an insurance item, fans were kept at the edge of their seats particularly in the final half-hour at which point Jamaica had finally found some momentum.
In the end, Waldrum got what he asked for, a stern test by Jamaica, which would give a better indication of T&T’s status moving into the Concacaf Women’s Championship in October. That event (October 16-24) will ultimately decide the confederation’s representatives at the Fifa Women’s World Cup in Canada, next year.
As host Canada has already qualified, giving T&T an even greater chance at advancing among the top three teams. A half spot is also available for a playoff against a team from Comnebol (South America).
Haiti and Martinique, runner-up finishers in the two groups also qualified for the Concacaf Championships. Haiti took third spot at the CFU Championship, with 5-1 win over Martinique, in the playoff preceding the final.
T&T: Kimika Forbes, Mariah Shade (Shenelle Henry 75th), Rhea Belgrave, Arin King, Maylee Attin Johnson, Tasha St Louis, JAnine Francois (Dernelle Mascall 70th), Lauryn Hutchinson, Karyn Forbes, Patrice Superville (Taylor Mims 81st), Kennya Cordner.
Unused subs: Afiyah Matthias, Annalis Cummings, Tinesha Palmer.
Coach: Randy Waldrum.
Jamaica: Nicole McClure, Monique Pryce, Donnakay Henry, Alicia Wilson, Kenesha Reid, Shakira Duncan (Mitsy Facey 79th), Christina Murray (Venecia Reid 70th), Sashana Campbell, Nicole Campbell-Green, Sherona Forrester, Jodi-Ann McGregor.
Unused subs: Trudian Mills, Alexa Allen, Yolanda Hamilton, Myjnairii Perkins, Khedine Salmon, Olivia Reid.
Coach: Merron Gordon
T&T 1 (Mariah Shade 8th) vs Jamaica 0
Third place playoff
Haiti 5 (Kensie Bobo 15th, 47th, 72nd, Wisline Dolce 45th, Manoucheka Pierre-Louis 70th) vs Martinique 1 (Brena 64th)
Teams Pld W D L F A Pts
Jamaica 3 3 0 0 15 2 9
Haiti 3 2 0 1 9 3 6
Puerto Rico 3 1 0 2 6 9 3
Bermuda 3 0 0 3 3 19 0
T&T 3 3 0 0 20 0 9
Martinique 3 2 0 1 3 7 6
St Kitts/Nevis 3 1 0 2 2 12 3
Antig/Barb 3 0 0 3 1 7 0