Young Girlz bow out after 1-1 result
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands — Costa Rica accompanied the United States into the semi-finals of the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship after securing a 1-1 result against Jamaica at the Truman Bodden Stadium on Monday evening.
The US, who had already advanced following 6-0 and 3-0 victories over Costa Rica and Jamaica, swept aside Guatemala 1-0 to enter the final four with maximum nine points.
Costa Rica follow with four points, ahead of Jamaica on two and Guatemala on a solitary point.
Costa Rica scored an early goal, conceded one in the second half and held on for a 1-1 result in a drama-filled affair, as the Central Americans tried to avoid defeat.
That task was made easier in the seventh minute, when the Ticas grabbed a 1-0 lead. Melissa Herrera sent a diagonal ball through the box that Michelle Montero tapped into the net, while sliding into the left post.
Needing a victory and sensing urgency, the Reggae Girlz lifted the level of their play immediately and sustained long periods of possession.
Only two minutes later, Marlo Sweatman headed over the Costa Rican crossbar off a feed from the outstanding Khadija Shaw.
Alexa Allen fired off a shot from the top of the box in the 33rd minute that was saved by goalkeeper Mariela Vasquez, who would remain active for much of what was left in the encounter.
More good work from Shaw enabled the Caribbean champions to equalise 11 minutes after the break. The talented 16-year-old did well to win possession in the middle and then ran wide with the ball down the left, before supplying a perfect cross for Oshay Nelson Lawes to nod home.
In the 70th minute, Trudi Carter's effort from 23 yards forced Vasquez into a two-touch acrobatic stop. The Costa Rican popped the initial shot in the air and then somehow contorted her body to tap the ball away for a corner kick.
Vasquez demonstrated bravery once again in the 77th minute, crashing into the left post to block a Shaw header.
Shaw, who was named the most outstanding player at the Caribbean Under-20 qualifying tournament last year, nearly got the winner in the 82nd minute. The Harbour View star chested a throw-in, turned quickly and struck the crossbar from just beyond the right side of the box.
Herrera had the game's last chance, but Jamaica goalkeeper Taylor Grant charged out of her net to make the save as the Costa Rican tried to poke the ball past her.
Meanwhile, McKenzie Meehan scored three goals in the United States's victory.
The Americans completed Group A play with a perfect 3-0-0 record and a first-place finish. In Friday's semi-finals, they will face either Mexico or Trinidad & Tobago, who were slated to square off last evening to decide the Group B winner and runner-up.
The Americans have now won 13 consecutive games in the tournament, extending their record, and have conceded only one goal in their last nine outings.