Women Warriors advance to Concacaf Champs

Sports


TT’s Maria Frances-Serrant (18) controls the ball against Guyana, during the Concacaf World Cup qualifier, on Tuesday, at the Dwight Yorke Stadium. Photo by David Reid

SUBSTITUTE Lauryn Hutchinson netted a late equaliser as Trinidad and Tobago Women Warriors and the Guyana Jaguars drew 2-2 in their Group F fixture, at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet on Tuesday evening.

Action was in the qualification round of the Concacaf W Championship (formerly the Concacaf Women Championship).

By virtue of the result, TT topped Group F and join the winners of the five other groups, as well as Canada and the United States, in the Concacaf Champs, which is scheduled from July 4-18 in Monterrey, Mexico.

TT finished on ten points from four matches, followed by Guyana with eight. Nicaragua and Dominica (who were facing each other at press time on Tuesday), as well as Turks and Caicos, were already eliminated.

Guyana needed to win while TT only required a draw to secure first place in the group.

There were twists and turns in a tense encounter, in front of a lively crowd at Bacolet, before the veteran Hutchinson scored, five minutes after replacing the other TT goalscorer Asha James.

Players vie for the ball during the Concacaf World Cup qualifier between TT and Guyana, at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet, on Tuesday. Photo by David Reid

Playing in front of her native Tobago fans, James had TT’s first attempt on goal, after three minutes of play. The attacking midfielder got behind the Guyana defence but her right-footed shot went wide of the mark.

TT Under-20 captain Maria-Frances Serrant was used as the lone forward by coach Kenwyne Jones, but she missed a glorious chance to break the deadlock in the 24th minute.

Central defender Rhea Belgrave did well to chase a ball from Liana Hinds and pick out Serrant, who spooned her shot overbar, from inside the six-yard box.

The other two Tobago-born players who were facing their home supporters were the Forbes sisters, captain Karyn and goalkeeper Kimika.

The TT goalie was tested by a 35th minute from Brianne Desa’s freekick, which she spilt, but Otesha Charles failed to convert on the rebound attempt.

However, Forbes had another howler nine minutes later, which proved costly. The experienced keeper failed to gather another freekick from Desa, and Sydney Cummings was on hand to pounce on the loose ball and score from three metres out.

TT levelled the scores in the 48th, when James sent her penalty attempt to the right of goalkeeper Chante Sandiford, after Serrant was tripped inside the area by Briana De Souza.

Serrant had two opportunities to put TT ahead.

In the 66th, she intercepted the ball from an opponent, inside the Guyanese half, and raced towards goal, but her right-footed effort struck the crossbar. Twelve minutes later, after good work down the right flank by wing-back Kedie Johnson, Serrant was given a clear shot on goal but her meekly-taken right-footer trickled wide of the keeper right.

Kimika Forbes seemed to evoke memories of a similar gaffe against Ecuador on December 2, 2014 (which ruined TT’s chances of qualifying for the 2015 World Cup in Canada). With eight minutes to go in regulation time, a low freekick from Cummings stunningly trickled between the hands and legs of the TT goalie, to the delight of the visitors.

The scoreboard read 2-1, which would have ensured Guyana’s passage to the next round, but the Canadian-born Hutchinson, who can play either in defence or midfield, proved to be a master stroke from Jones.

TT’s Asha James (10) controls the ball against a Guyana senior women’s player during the Concacaf World Cup qualifier, at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet, on Tuesday. Photo by David Reid

Cecily Stoute sent a cross from the right which was met by Serrant. Once again, Serrant failed to convert, as her shot crashed off the bar, but Hutchinson was on hand to tap home the rebound, and guarantee a spot for TT at the Concacaf W Championships.

Two teams from the Concacaf Champs will automatically qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, while the third-placed teams from the two groups will advance to the inter-confederation playoffs.

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