U-17 Reggae Girlz clip Haiti to lift regional crown

BY SHERDON COWAN Observer staff reporter cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, November 23, 2015

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The entire Jamaican contingent here was a picture of euphoria after being crowned champions of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Under-17 tournament for the first time following their plucky 2-1 win over Haiti on Sunday.

Having lost out to Haiti
by a similar scoreline at
the CONCACAF Under-15 championships last year, and the Under-20 team suffering a 2-0 defeat to the same opponents in their final recently, the young Reggae Girlz exacted revenge on their age-group counterparts in a pulsating encounter.

Florida-based Shayla Smart opened the scoring for the Girlz in the third minute and Jody Brown got the other in the 67th minute, but Captain Nerilia Mondesir pulled one back for the Haitians in minute 71.

Head Coach Lorne Donaldson tried to contain his emotions, but managed to shower praise on his girls.

"Obviously they put the effort in because that was a good Haitian team, but tactically we did some stuff that worked. They executed as planned and they got the first goal very early, and then tactically the entire game they stuck it out, but it was a good, exciting game," he told the Jamaica Observer.

"But this is football and I always try to look to the next game, so the excitement doesn't last for long with me. When I go into the locker room, all I will think about is how I can make this team better. So I am here now having a little bit of fun with the girls, but like I said, my next step is to have them improve," he added.

It was a tentative start by both teams, with the Haitians knocking the ball around in their half and the Jamaicans seemingly reluctant to press.

But the young Reggae Girlz grabbed the early ascendancy and went to the break 1-0 up when the ever-composed Smart broke away down the left channel and smartly turned the ball inside before chipping over the head of the advancing Kerly Theus in goal for Haiti.

The Haitians came out pouncing at the resumption and applied consistent pressure, but were left despondent after breaching Jamaica's defensive line on a number of occasions and failed to inflict a crucial wound.

The Girlz hit back with a few blows of their own, and after absorbing pressure eventually opened up a two-goal cushion when the wily Brown followed-up to slot home a rebound after the initial shot by Smart was parried.

But the Haitians hit back four minutes later when Mondesir broke away on the left and calmly placed her shot wide of the outstretched arm of custodian Oneilia Yearde.

The Haitians, having been together for four years, were obviously more organised and dug deep for the equaliser, but the young Reggae Girlz stuck to their game plan which was to play behind the ball, thereby nullifying the attack.

"The sky is the limit for these girls, because I see a fantastic performance from Jody Brown tonight (Sunday), [as] she played the entire 90 minutes and before now she had not played a game in like three months.

"She is 14 years old and maybe one of the best young players I have seen in a long time, so there is some talent, but it has to be harnessed as I said before," Donaldson pointed out.

"We talk about representing themselves and the country, playing with heart and determination, and we spoke about being in the final and everybody was involved and they start believing and trusting each other.

"[With seeing] The love among these girls, one would think they know each other for two or three years, and I think all the coaches and staff created an environment that the girls were comfortable with and they bought into it," he continued.

Jamaica kicked off their campaign with a 2-2 result against the hosts, but bounced back with a 5-1 hammering of Bermuda followed by a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Cuba to finish atop Group A with seven points. They then defeated Group B runners-up Trinidad and Tobago 1-0

in the semi-finals.

However, they entered the final as underdogs against the well-oiled Haitian unit which had earlier netted 23 goals and four wins in as many games on their way to the final.

By virtue of reaching the final, both teams have secured spots in the CONCACAF round of qualifiers to be staged in Grenada in February.

The top two teams from the CONCACAF round will advance to the FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup in Jordan in September.

"Hopefully we can get a camp in December in Jamaica with the local-based players and do a camp in Florida with the overseas-based players, and then we start putting them together. I know the overseas players will have a lot of tournaments over December, so we have to get

the local girls going... I would fly down work with them," Donaldson noted.

"We still need a few additions because we are still not the best in certain spots, so adding a couple players and getting some real games in before the CONCACAF round is going to be very important, because now they will be playing the United States, Mexico and Canada.

"I know a lot of these players, especially the Americans, because I have five players in that pool, so I know the team and the quality they have and we have to step up to it," he explained.

Teams

Jamaica -- Oneilia Yearde, Peta-Gay Dixon, Rachel Walters, Lyana Steele (Giselle Washington 58th), Shayla Smart, Sherice Clarke (Kendaya Jackson 83rd), Jody Brown, Erin Mikalsen, Khadian Wright-Brown, Marlee Fray (Rena Gordon 90+3), Emily Caza.

Subs not used: Nerisa Distant, Shanhaine Nelson, Tarania Clarke, Monique Perrier, Lacey-Ann Murray

Booked: None

Haiti -- Kerly Theus, Nandie Deshommes (Dolores Jean Thomas 75th), Daphnee Joseph, Napthtalie Northe, Melissa Dacius (Mikerline Saint Felix 62nd), Nelourde Nicholas (Lovelie Pierre 56th), Nerilia Mondesir, Roseline Eloissaint, Rosianne Jean, Magdala Macean, Wagnelda

Millien.

Subs not used: Daphney Auguste, Taina Gervais, Martine Olivier, Yverline Sevilne, Melchie Dumonay, Emilie Ducasse

Booked: None

Referee: Maurees Skeete (GUY)

Assistant Referees: Yajaira Astacio (DOM), Shannon Gibson (BAR)

Fourth Official: Crystal Sobers

Match Commissary: Gwendolyn Salmon (ATG)

   


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