The Cayman Islands National Under 17 Girls after their 2-2 result with Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Football Union World Cup Qualifiers will be fired up at the TE McField Sports Complex tomorrow at 7pm.
Admission is free and the hope is that there local supporters will come out in force to inspire the girls to victory. A goalless draw or 1-1 result will be enough for Cayman to go through because they scored two away goals.
The first leg was played at the Estadio Panamericano San Cristobal in Santa Domingo Dominican Republic last Saturday.
The girls upon their arrival at the Owen Roberts International Airport received a warm welcome from the Minister of Education, Health and Sports Mark Scotland, Bodden Town MLA Dwayne Seymour, Jeffrey Webb, President of the Cayman Islands Football Association, families, supporters and friends.
Scotland said:’On behalf of myself and the Government of the Cayman Islands I want to congratulate the Cayman Islands Girls National U17 team on their accomplishments thus far.
‘Keep up the hard work girls. The entire Cayman Islands are cheering for you all and will continue to be proud of your results and achievements as you excel in the national sports. Good luck this Saturday and in the future.’
The national Under 17 Girls after travelling without their captain and central defender Tacita ‘Tata’ Berry who was injured, were leading by two goals when they lost their number one keeper Emily Kelly in the 25 minute. This did not deter the young Cayman Islands ambassadors from playing as a unit to finish the game 2-2 courageously with Ashani Francis in goal.
Kelly was kicked in the face by one of the opponents namely Yaqueisi A. Nunez Soriano and had to be substituted as she had to receive medical attention off the field. This 2-2 result has given the Cayman Islands team the advantage going into the second leg.
Head coach Bobby McLaren said: ‘These girls have an extraordinary faith in God therefore this challenge was not against Dominican Republic but against how strong their faith was in God even after losing Kelly. We were up 2-0 by the 15th minute and were leading confidently exercising dominance over the opponents.
‘It was an unfortunate incident when we lost our only keeper. The team although realizing the severity of her injury continued to fight through their tears and showed a type of resilience that can only be found in a strong Caymanian woman.
‘That calibre of performance is a tribute to the resilience and strength of character that is derived from a strong belief in God.
‘Come Saturday the girls will decide which of the two teams will advance to the next phase and represent the Caribbean region. Cayman, the team needs your support and prayers, please be there for them.’
Brianna Hydes who captained the team in the absence of Berry, said: ‘After starting without two of our key players and losing Emily we stepped up to the challenge, built our confidence and got the job done.
‘The team was a bit shaken up and worried about her condition, however, when Emily returned from hospital we were at our best again and survived the onslaught of our hosts.
‘It’s a warm feeling knowing that we will be playing on our home ground. The key players such as Berry and Chelsea Bush will be back in the game this time around. Kelly will be back in goal as well. We will certainly use the home advantage and with the help of God get past this one.’
The Cayman Islands went ahead in the 1st minute with a goal from Jettena Bodden followed by another from the skilful Shanice Monteith in the 15th.
Diana Santana Tavarez scored in the 40th for Dominican Republic and in the 59th minute they drew level through Lizzy Sanchez Guzman.
Cayman were placed second in group A of the CFU World Cup Qualifyiers in Haiti last month after their brilliant performance against Bahamas, British Virgin Islands and Haiti.
They defeated Bahamas 2-1, British Virgin Islands 13-0 and lost to hosts Haiti 1-0 at the Sylvia Cator Stadium in Port-Au-Prince.
The members of the team are Emily Kelly, Brittany Mobley, Tacita Berry, Brianna Hydes, Chelsea Bush, Alyssa Chin, Ashani Francis, Marissa McLaughlin, Nickki Ebanks, Shanice Monteith, Ashleigh Shim, Chelsea Brown, Chelsea Greene, Ashley Borde, Kaela Ebanks, Xolchilt Watler, Shanelle Frederick, Chloe Mclean and Jetena Bodden.
These girls are under the expert guidance of the women’s national technical director Thiago Cunha and McLaren. They have developed these girls into tough contenders who have not only made history but have made the entire Cayman Islands proud.