By Morissa Lindsay
Attacking midfielder Kerisha Catlyn struck a goal as Barbados won their third and final round-robin match 1-0 against United States Virgin Islands in the CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship but failed to top Group C and qualify for the 2020 Championship.
With a mountain of seven goals to find to topple group winners Belize, Barbados captain and top defender Olianna Bishop delivered a well-flighted free-kick just above the halfway line, and into the six-yard box. and there was Catlyn inside the area to control and finish.
That lone goal was scored two minutes into the game played last night at the Wildey, St. Michael AstroTurf under wet conditions as the rain poured. Barbados had several failed opportunities after that opening goal and they completed the group with seven points, the same number as Belize.
The Central Americans had a superior goal difference of nine having played three games, with two wins and one draw. St. Kitts and Nevis finished third on three points while USVI failed to register a point.
Addressing the media, Barbados Football Association technical director Ahmed Mohammed said coming into yesterday’s final match they were depending on St. Kitts and Nevis to defeat Belize.
However, that never happened as St. Kitts and Nevis who were leading 2-0 at halftime lost 4-3 to Belize, and that put added pressure on Barbados to score seven goals which Mohammed explained was too big an ask for the girls.
“We tried. The game started very well, but we saw the girls were a bit nervous because a seven-nil win was a bit too heavy for them,” Mohammed said, while reminding that Barbados scored only one goal for the tournament in open play.
“You need to see what kind of girls we have. We started fresh this programme with the girls, so as you know the quality that we have. If you understand football, you will be cautious with those questions. We are still underdeveloped and you saw yourself. It doesn’t make sense to put oil into the fire. So, we will continue to keep working, and the girls did very well according to their standard,” the technical director explained.
Attacking midfielders Kerisha Catlyn and Keidasha Thomas created problems for USVI defenders while Amber Soudatt-Sealy, Jessie Robinson, Asha Stevenson and Rayna Cummins played their roles in defensive midfield.
Barbados kept the ball in USVI’s half for the majority of the game as they pressed for goal number two to pull off the unimaginable. There were lots of corners and free-kick opportunities awarded to the young Bajans by referee Priscila Perez that they did not convert despite the number of goals they needed to score.
In the latter stages of the encounter, Catlyn should have scored a hat-trick having had several bites at the cherry. Catlyn took a decent 30-yard free-kick that met the awaiting gloves of Belize goalkeeper Carmen Rangel.
Wearing the number seven on her back, Catlyn then followed up with an attacking move where she challenged the defender and took a close-range shot that forced Rangel to make a brilliant diving save minutes before the final whistle.
USVI had a few moments of their own but Barbados’ defence led by captain Bishop, assisted by Tanija Maughn, Keinelle Johnson and Tori Belle, did well to stop forward Soemili Perez, and national number one Lisa Harding was equal to the challenge.
Despite their struggles throughout this tournament and being labelled as the weakest team in the group, USVI did well defensively to avert danger and denied the home side another chance at goal.
Central defenders Kira Mitchell and Leea Lopez played it safe for USVI and cleared the ball each time Barbados appeared close to scoring while goalkeeper Carmen Rangel got her body behind the ball and made some excellent saves.
USVI head coach Joseph Limeburner was happy about his team’s performance and said a one-nil defeat against Barbados was the best result they had ever got. He explained that Barbados was a counter-attacking team and played accordingly.
“That is the best result the USVI under-17 girls have ever gotten. That is a win for us, leaps and bounds. Barbados has been amazing for us, what an event, what a venue. All the teams have been strong, and it showed that Barbados, St. Kitts and Belize are real top-level teams.
“Barbados is a counterattacking team, so what we did is stack the low block, and we actually played a counter-attacking game. So, once we dragged them in, then we went quickly through the middle and then to the flanks,” coach Limeburner said. [email protected]