United squeeze past Elite

FA Cup final

Women United 1

Elite 0

Women United confirmed they are Cayman’s best women’s football team on Sunday. They had already won the league by a wide margin and this was a chance for the double.

Womens United

Womens United, back: Coach Bobby McLaren, Brianna Hydes, Krishan Welcome, Ashani Francis, Alyssa Chin, Brittany Schirn, Ashley Borde, Giselle Johnson, Shanice Monteith. Middle: Tacita Berry, Kimberley Pitta, Chelsea Bush, Nicole Giuffre, Kaela Ebanks, Captain Shenel Gall. Goalkeeper: Emily Kelly. Photo: Matthew Yates

They are technically sound, pass well into space and are coordinated in the back and up front.

The side features a rock-solid goal keeper in Emily Kelly, a dynamic midfielder in captain Shenell Gall and great attacking speed in Shanice Montieth.

All those positives came to the fore when the squad took on Elite Sports Club in the Cayman Islands Football Association FA Cup final.

The match took place at the newly refurbished TE McField Sports Centre (aka the Annex) in front of a substantial crowd.

The spectators made for a colourful background as a sea of baby blue and bright yellow filled the stands on both sides of the field.

Their enthusiasm came through with every big run, foul and free kick.

The relatively small segment of Women United supporters would have much to cheer about in the first half. Thanks to technically sound passing from Krishan Welcome and Tacita Berry the side would enjoy the majority of scoring chances via corner and free kicks close to goal.

Yet Elite’s defense, lead by captain Martha Godet and Jessica Ebanks stood firm as no goal would be scored in the first half.

In particular Courtisha Ebanks was a wall in goal as she dove in every direction to stop shots from finding the back of the net.

On the other end Elite would get their looks. Their best chance came on a free kick just outside the box that sailed slightly over the head of Kelly.

As the game went on the Elite fans (who were in the majority in the stands) had plenty to cheer about. The underdogs coming into the match had most of the chances in the second half.

Thanks to dazzling pace from Vilma Guillen and Michelle McField Elite got deep into the United defense and made Kelly sweat in goal.

The second half in general would see plenty of furious action both ways but neither side could capitalize and the match would go to sudden death 15 minute halves.

The first overtime half would see neither team break through. Chances were scarce as fatigue became a big factor. With the way both teams were playing it seemed a penalty kick shootout was definitely on the cards.

But near the end of the second extra session the game came to a dramatic close. Elite had been reduced to nine players in the extra sessions due to red cards to midfielder Telisha Ebanks and defender Brittany Mobley.

The critical moment came on a corner that Elite conceded on the left flank. United sent a dipping, curling cross into the box that looked dangerous from the start. No one could put a head on the ball but at the same time no one could clear it.

The result was that Brianna Hydes scooped up the loose ball and fired it home into the right side of the net past the diving Elite keeper. The fans erupted as Hydes and her United team-mates ran to the bench to hug head coach Bobby McLaren and celebrate.