It all went according to script with the two best teams reaching the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 final, and defending champion USA retaining their crown against Mexico on Sunday.
No surprise there, but what did raise eyebrows was how easily the Americans won, 4-0, with little resistance.
Mexico only staged a couple of meaningful attacks throughout and they fluffed a golden opportunity by missing a penalty late in the game, but by then the match was effectively lost.
All matches were free entry throughout the 10-day tournament at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex. Although live on Fox Sports TV, spectators nevertheless turned up in hordes for games, and people were sometimes turned away from the stadium, which has a capacity of 3,500.
Such was the attraction to the championship game that a couple of die-hard fans even climbed a tree beside the ground to get their own bird’s eye view.
Dignitaries in attendance included Premier Alden McLauglin, CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson and Sports and Health minister Osbourne Bodden.
Both teams had already qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup finals in Canada this summer so they were playing for bragging rights more than anything.
USA captain Andi Sullivan settled her team’s nerves when she struck in the ninth minute, delivering an in-swinging corner kick towards the corner of the net that Mexican keeper Cecilia Santiago tried to punch away, but could not keep out.
The Americans pressed with little effect until the 60th minute when Savannah Jordan scored in her fifth consecutive tournament game for her fifth goal, slotting home a Stephanie Amack pass.
Shortly after coming on as a substitute, Margaret Purce made it 3-0 as she headed a Summer Green cross in the 68th minute.
Then Mexico had an opportunity to break the Americans’ clean sheet throughout the tournament from a penalty kick. Briana Campos fired her penalty off the post and the Americans thwarted attempts to follow up.
The fourth USA goal came when Mexican defender Nancy Antonio accidentally put a Mallory Weber cross into her own net in the third minute of stoppage time.
Cayman went out in the group stages having lost all three matches, but there was still a local connection in the championship game because Wendy Fisher was an assistant referee.
The Americans completed the competition with a perfect record, scoring 29 without conceding one.
In the earlier match for third place and the remaining World Cup spot, Nicole Araya booked Costa Rica’s ticket with their fourth and fifth goals in extra time to help them win 7-3 having been 1-3 earlier in the game against Trinidad and Tobago.
The Trinidadians were less than 20 minutes away from becoming the first Caribbean side to qualify for a FIFA Women’s World Cup at any level, when the fitter and more cohesive Central Americans turned the game around in style.
It was an amazing spectacle for neutral observers, but for Trinidadians planning a trip to Canada in August, totally heart-wrenching.