Less-than-perfect Girlz manage to blast Curacao 10-0

Sunday, July 23, 2017

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DEVONSHIRE, Bermuda — A big win was always on the cards for Jamaica's Under-20 Reggae Girlz in their opening Caribbean CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship qualifiers, and they delivered just that.

However, despite their 10-0 plunder of minnows Curacao in their Group B contest at the National Sports Centre on Friday, the performance was by no means polished.

The battering was led by a treble from striker Marlee Fray (24th, 31st and 53rd), and a brace from Jessica Johnson (45+1 and 56th). The other goals came from Giselle Washington (30th), Alyssa Julien (41st), Erin Mikalsen (69th), substitute Kevena Reid (85th) and Ebony Clarke (90th).

The win placed the Jamaicans atop the three-nation standings on three points, same as host Bermuda who also got by Curacao 5-1 on Wednesday, but Jamaica have a superior goal difference.

Both teams will meet in a top-of-the-table clash today to determine who will join the other two group stage winners in the final qualifying stage, along with St Kitts and Nevis, as the hosts of the final round. Haiti and Dominican Republic are hosts of the other two groups.

In the final qualifying phase, teams finishing first and second in the Group will automatically qualify for the 2018 CONCACAF Women's Under 20 Championship.

“I think it was a very good performance, but not a perfect one. I think we started extremely slow, but once we got the first goal we grew in the game as the game progressed and we got 10 goals,” said assistant coach Davion Ferguson in a post-game interview.

“We knew Curacao play a high line and we used that to our advantage to exploit the space behind them, as well as to use our speed down the flanks and provide that cross, in which worked out well for the most parts,” he added.

Before the floodgates opened, which saw the young Reggae Girlz scoring five goals in either half, they suffered a scare, as Curacao forced two fine saves from custodian Sydney Schneider in the early exchanges.

Riesmarly Tokaay struck a right-footed effort from a distance in minute number six, but Schneider proved equal to the task.

And Captain Diante Scheepers followed six minutes later with a well-driven, 20-yard free kick, which was also equally well saved by Schneider diving to her right.

Besides that, the Girlz were vastly superior throughout. but amidst the goalscoring onslaught, there were patches of poor decision-making, resulting in a number of unforced errors and a lack of composure in front of goal.

Those are some of the issues that the coaching staff continues to work on to ensure a more fluent rendition in the future.

“I think we turned over the ball a little bit too much in some areas of the pitch. also, when the game got a little bit easy there was a little bit of rush in terms of wanting to score that goal instead of playing normally, passing and trying to build that attack to get that chance to score,” Ferguson noted.

There were two last-minute changes to the Xavier Gilbert-coached squad as captain Emily Caza and striker Jody Brown were strategically pulled from the line-up and replaced by Sashine Smith and Tarania Clarke, who sported the captain's armband.

After threatening on a few occasions down the right channel, the Jamaicans eventually found the breakthrough in the 24th minute when Johnson broke down the left channel and picked out Fray, who flicked the ball over the advancing custodian and calmly slotted in.

From there, it became a question of how many times the Young Girlz would breach Curacao's high backline, as they camped out in the opponents half and took turns in attacking the goal, with channels being left at their disposal.

Washington doubled the lead at the half-hour mark after arriving to head in a well-weighted cross from Gabrielle Gayle, who had a wonderful game on the right wing.

Fray notched her second a minute later when she headed past custodian Lishanty Guillermo from a Mikalsen cross.

The Florida-based Fray could have closed her treble in the 37th, but she sprayed her effort just wide of the left upright from a right-sided cross by Sashine Smith.

Curacao's high backline resulted in the Jamaicans being caught offside on a number of occasions, but it proved futile in the 41st minute when Julien notched the girls' fourth.

The Canadian-based central midfielder timed her run to perfection, and an excellent pass from Washington sent her on her way to dismiss the advancing Guillermo and fire home from a one-on-one situation.

Johnson capped off the first-half dominance when she fired home from close range after Guillermo failed to collect a cross from Gayle cleanly.

The Jamaicans asserted their superiority on the resumption and Fray picked up where she left off eight minutes in, when she finished off a cross from Johnson.

Johnson was rewarded for her good work three minutes later, after Gayle dismissed the 'keeper and placed a pass on a platter for her to finish off.

At the hour mark, a lapse in concentration and a bit of complacency resulted in the Jamaicans making a number of unforced errors, but clarity was restored when Mikalsen's left-footed free kick from an angle was tipped in by Guillermo.

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