Canada’s triumph on the pitch is sure to resonate on these shores.
The Canadians went undefeated – with five wins and one draw – in the Cayman Islands en route to the inaugural Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football Under-15 Girls Championship. The side boasted seven of the tournament’s 11 best players, including captain Sarah Stratigakis, the Golden Boot winner as tournament Most Valuable Player, and Lysianne Proulx, the Golden Glove winner as the competition’s top goalie. Most of the girls are back in North America, training and playing at the club level.
For some – like forward/winger Jordyn Huitema, 13 – the mission now is to advance up the ranks and possibly star one day for the national women’s team.
“Cayman is a very beautiful place to play and it’s such an opportunity to get this chance,” Huitema said. “It’s a beautiful place. I actually love it. With the humidity, it’s really hot but you get past that in the first couple of days. I felt that we were strong, we definitely deserved the win. …We played as a team the whole way and we stuck to our game plan. We just did what we did best.
“I go back to British Colombia and play for my team. We’re just going to keep playing and hopefully I come back to the system later on.”
Huitema will be remembered for scoring the winning goal at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex during Canada’s 4-1 penalty kick win over Haiti in the championship game. The squads, who were unbeaten during group play in Cayman Brac, were level at 1-1 after regulation with scores from Haitian Nerilia Mondesir in the 47th minute and Canadian substitute Lauren Raimondo in the 74th minute.
A big reason why Proulx earned her Golden Glove award was for her two big saves in the shootout. She conceded only three goals during the six-game competition and the French speaker said the penalty saves stemmed from the team’s overall confidence.
“I thought that we could win by penalties because we have a good team for penalty shots,” Proulx said. “I think that from the start of the tournament we had a chance to win. We all stayed positive and we got the championship trophy.”
Aside from Canada and Haiti, the other top performers were Trinidad and Tobago. The Trinidadians crushed Honduras, 5-2, in the third place game. The Hondurans, who also won the Fair Play award, defeated Cayman, 3-2, in the quarterfinals.
It was a good showing by the local girls, who went undefeated in group play, topping Group A at 3-0. The home team enjoyed landslide victories: 5-0 over British Virgin Islands, 4-1 over the Bahamas and 6-0 over Curacao. Star midfielder/forward Chelsea Green was named one of the tournament’s 11 best players and shared the Golden Boot award with Mondesir for scoring a competition-best six goals.
For onlookers like Miguel Pitta, a former national men’s team keeper who volunteered at the tournament, there is plenty of food for thought.
“The goalkeeper from Canada is amazing, she plays at a level right now, at this age, like a big woman,” Pitta said. “She will go far if she keeps this up. Her technique is excellent, the way she moves on the field, the way she talks, is excellent.
“These (Cayman) girls, this is the first time they’ve really played together in a tournament. They still have some more development to go through, but if they stay together, they could go far – really far. We have some really talented girls on that team.”