A second-half penalty kick taken by midfielder Asha Stevenson brought Barbados level 1-1 against Belize in their opening CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship played last night at the Barbados Football Association Wildey, St. Michael, AstroTurf.
After a goalless first half, Belize took a 1-0 lead compliments midfielder Jesselle Conorque with a strike in the 56th minute of the Group C encounter.
The young Bajan Gems with a much better showing in the second half were rewarded a penalty in the 78th minute by referee Crystal Sobers. Attacking midfielder Asha Stevenson delivered a powerful shot into the left upright of the goalbar which was cause for celebration.
Both teams got a point each after the draw and Barbados’ head coach Richard Forde said he was proud of the team spirit shown despite some players sustaining injury and suffering from cramp.
“One of the real reason I am proud of this team is that we showed heart, and we showed guts even although our players were injured and they had cramp we showed fight. This is what we want, this is what we could build on. All we need now is to work on the technical aspect of these girls and confidence. But that is something that they have to work on because what I see is a social problem in terms of our girls because now they are too dependent, we need them to be independent and make decisions. They look at the coach all the time to make decisions for them. But tonight they had to make all of those decisions in critical situations, “ Forde said.
Defensively both teams were evenly matched as Barbados captain Olianne Bishop led by example with assistance from Tanija Maughn and Keinelle Johnson.
In the first half, Barbados played with one defensive midfield player, three attacking in the middle and two strikers which did not work out well as Belize created several goal-scoring opportunities that were brilliantly denied by Barbados number one custodian Lisa Harding.
Coach Forde was forced to make a few adjustments in the midfield that was being overrun and put two defensive midfield players [Asha Stevenson and Kerisha Catlyn] and one forward [Ryah Dates] that paid off in a positive way.
Following that opening goal by Belize, Barbados began to make substitutions as
Tori Belle came off and made room for Britnee Stanford. While Amber Soudatt- Sealy came off injured and was replaced by Ryah Dates who caused lots of problem for Belize’s backline with her physicality.
Eventually, the equalizer came through Stevenson who went down injured a few times but gave the modest crowd something to shout about with that fantastic goal hammered past Belize goalkeeper Dennisa Pineda.
Belize coach Wayne Casimiro said after the game he was confident of a win but was pleased to come away with the draw.
“We played an excellent game, I think to go into the game we had full confidence coming away with a win but the game is played on the pitch and we made errors and were not able to capitalize on time. But the one-all draw is a plus for us, “ Casimiro said.