The Cayman Islands Girls Under 15 National Football Team defeated the Bahamas 4-1 in their opening Group E game Monday at the CONCACAF Girls’ Under 15 Championships at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
The young players put in a stellar performance, racing to a commanding 3-0 lead by halftime courtesy of goals from Chloe Bentick-Lalli in the 12th minute, Alexia Bromfield in the 16th minute and Molly Kehoe in the 33rd minute. The score could have been significantly higher as the Cayman squad had numerous opportunities to add to their lead, including a missed penalty in the 6th minute.
The Bahamas played the majority of the game with 10 players, as defender Brianna Capron was given her marching orders after committing the foul which presented the Cayman Islands with the penalty in the 6th minute.
With 10 players, the Bahamas struck in the 40th minute just as the second half resumed to make the score 3-1, as Gabrielle Simms grabbed what would be the Bahamians’ only goal.
Molly Kehoe grabbed her second of the game in the 66th to restore the three goal “cushion,” which would ultimately seal the victory for the Caymanians.
With the intense heat playing a major factor in the pace of the game, head coach Alex Gonzales-Garces and assistant coach Shakeina Bush made a rash of changes, which would pay dividends in retaining the lead.
In the 58th minute, Riley Doyle replaced Kayla Bradley; in the 62nd minute, Kasey Golding came in for Ethana Villalobos; in the 68th minute, Nassaria Williams entered the fray for Lilly Powery; and in the 69th minute, Kalie Ebanks replaced Shayana Windsor.
Commenting on the win, assistant coach Shakeina Bush, who also serves as chairperson of the CIFA Women’s Committee said, “This victory was very important as it gave the girls the opportunity to rid themselves of any nerves they may have had coming into the tournament. Our second half was not as strong as the first, but the 93 degree heat definitely played a part in that.
“We had a number of opportunities in front of goal but for some reason, we couldn’t finish. With the win and the performance, the girls are in good spirits for [Tuesday’s] game against Guyana.” Miss Bush added, “It is refreshing to see many leaders emerge from the team and take responsibility for keeping the girls together, focused and unified.”
The Cayman Islands round off Group E play with a game against St. Lucia on Thursday. The winners of Group E will face the winners of Group D in the semifinals on Friday for a place in Sunday’s final.