The Cayman Islands Under-17 women’s football squad has returned home from their U-17 Women’s World Cup Qualifying Campaign in the Dominican Republic after a series of spirited displays.
Brought together at short notice due to a hastily organized qualifying tournament, the U-17s had a rigorous training program to prepare themselves for a tough qualifying group against regional powerhouses Cuba, hosts Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas, who also have a well-developed women’s program.
The Cayman side was determined to build on their successful showing in the CONCACAF U-15 tournament last August. With tournament organizers scheduling games for 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., each game really tested the players mentally and physically.
Cayman’s first game proved as difficult as could be. The 2 p.m. kickoff was against group favorites Cuba, a powerful, well-drilled side who showed their experience with five unanswered first-half goals, four from set pieces. Following a reassuring halftime team talk, Cayman regained their composure and conceded only a solitary goal in the second half. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done and they lost 6-0.
With a day’s rest and the opportunity to assess their first game, Cayman then had the daunting task of taking on a home side that was buoyed by a comfortable victory in their opening game against the Bahamas, and riding on vociferous local support.
A close game ensued, but following a hard-fought battle, Cayman lost 3-2. With goals from Chelsea Green and Sabrina Suberan, Cayman came close to upsetting the hosts.
Cayman came out fighting in the third group game against the Bahamas in what was the battle for third place after the Bahamas were easily beaten by Cuba.
Superior fitness levels and disciplined defending ensured that Cayman were triumphant, running out comfortable 2-0 winners.
Green and Suberan again proved what exciting talents they are in front of goal, each scoring for the second game in a row.
Martha Godet, chair of the Cayman Islands Football Association’s women’s football committee, said, “We are so proud of the girls’ efforts.
“Had we been given a full opportunity to prepare the squad, I’m confident we would have again shown how we are able to compete with the larger nations of the region.
“The future of women’s football in Cayman certainly looks bright, and I’m excited to see what these young ladies can achieve.”
The team was accompanied by local coaches Gregory Ebanks and Walter Hernandez, along with team manager Lanie McLaughlin and equipment manager Mabel Poyfong.
Squad: Amanda Frederick, Kamaria Whittaker, Chyanai Tibbetts, Sabrina Suberan, Jasmine Powery, Daniella Gourzong, Derricka Neysmith, Halle Medina, Chelsea Green, Brianna Poyfong, Shaquin Rankine, Hannah Scott, Lauren Scott, Marlena Elwin, Ashleigh Ebanks, Serena Nelson, Shimari Fisher, Monique Hernandez, Ericia Burke and Deondra Kelly.