Guadeloupe lessons set Cayman up for university tests

Cayman’s national football women’s team played a friendly game in Guadeloupe on Saturday night and, although they lost, gained immensely from the experience, their head coach Alan Purvis insisted.

“It was a very promising performance with lots of positives,” he said. “Guadeloupe were physically bigger and stronger and have been together as a team for a long time, in comparison to our seven to eight weeks.”

This was a good warm-up for Cayman, who play the University of New Haven from Connecticut this Sunday and the following Wednesday at the TE McField Annex, Purvis said.

Other Cayman players will be considered for those games, as well as the ones that went to Guadeloupe.

Purvis said Guadeloupe put them under a lot of pressure initially. “This was our first competitive game as a team so it was expected. I told the players to be prepared for that and to defend with resilience for the first 20 minutes and they did exactly that.”

He said that after that Cayman settled into the game and started to press themselves, troubling their defense on a number of occasions.

Cayman had a great chance to go ahead with a wonderful through ball that set Nikki Whittaker away for a one-on-one with the Guadeloupe keeper but she made “a fabulous save.”

Guadeloupe had a clear chance before half time but Jovani Hessing made an incredible point-blank save to tip over the bar. It was one of a number of crucial saves Hessing made before the break when Cayman made two planned changes, including switching keepers, with Kristina Seymour replacing Hessing.

An early corner to Guadeloupe in the second half slipped Seymour’s grasp and Guadeloupe opened the scoring. It was a blow after the first half heroics of Cayman’s defense.

Cayman kept battling, defending superbly and trying to hit on quick attacks. Cayman troubled the hosts a few times but their best chances came from free kicks.

At the other end, Cayman broke up Guadeloupe’s attacks and continued to frustrate them and unlike the first half, Seymour had no real shots to save.

With 10 minutes to go, Cayman pressed for a goal and committed players forward. However, a free kick on the edge of the Cayman box with five minutes to go was swung in and Guadeloupe’s main striker finally managed to get free and place a header in the corner to seal the 2-0 win.

“I was very proud of the girls for their performance in our first game and their work rate, commitment and attitude was first class,” said Purvis. “They never gave up and worked so hard, particularly defensively.”

With a few more games together and more training, the team will continue to improve and has great potential, he added.

“I was very proud of their performance. The two goals came from set plays and we never let them break us down, much as they tried.”

He added that noteworthy performances were too many to mention as it really was a great team effort from all 15 squad players.

The starting team was Javani Hessing, Bryttani Lawrence, Brittni Ebanks (captain), Shanai Allen, Brittany Bodden, Lauren Scott, Kaela Ebanks, Deondra Kelly, Tatiana Ramoon, Nicole Whittaker and Amy Mobley.

Subs were Kristina Seymour (for Hessing 45 minutes), Judy Rivers (for Ramoon 60 minutes), Neesa Godet (for Lawrence 45 minutes) and Sabrina Suberan (for Mobley 60 minutes).

Cayman remain in Guadeloupe to train until Tuesday. Purvis has Gisela Gamba and Walter Hernandez as assistant coaches.

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