The Cayman Islands Under 17 Boys National Football squad secured their second win in two days on Monday, as they defeated the U.S. Virgin Islands 3-0 in a Group A game at the CONCACAF Under 17 Boys Championships qualifying round at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
First half goals from Joshua Small and Corey Smith, and a third off the boot of Jonah Sigsworth in the second half were enough to send the USVI to their second defeat of the tournament.
Grouped with Nicaragua, Grenada, the USVI and St. Vincent & The Grenadines in Group A of the qualifying round, only the group winners will advance to the final round, scheduled for May 2019.
The Cayman team found the early going difficult as they had to contend with a strong wind that played havoc with the ball. With the wind at their backs, the USVI were definitely benefitting from the weather conditions as Cayman conceded a series of corners in quick succession.
Fortunately, the Cayman back line, comprised of Daniel Wallace, Caleb McFarlane, Victor Thompson Jr. and Luke Byles, successfully dealt with the corners and quickly started a number of counterattacks. It was one such transition that ended with Joshua Small grabbing the game’s first goal in the 37th minute.
With the team growing in confidence, Corey Smith scored less than a minute later in the 38th minute to make it 2-0 to the Cayman Islands.
The Cayman boys enjoyed a good spell of play as they continued to push forward, forcing the USVI back on their heels. The halftime whistle could not have come any sooner for the USVI, as the Cayman team left the field leading 2-0.
Halftime changes were made as D’Shawn Brown replaced Caleb McFarlane in defence.
With 10 minutes gone in the second half, the Cayman Islands found themselves 3-0 up as Jonah Sigsworth was on hand to turn a Jackson Kirkconnell shot into the USVI net, much to the delight of his teammates and coaches.
Celebrations were short-lived though, as Cayman conceded a penalty in the 56th minute. With Micah O’Garro facing his first penalty as the Under 17 goalkeeper, the odds were clearly in favour of the USVI reducing the deficit. But it was not to be as O’Garro rose to the challenge and his save kept the 3-0 lead intact.
With time running out for the USVI, Cayman substituted in Harrison Hew for Jonah Sigsworth and Breshawn Watson for Joshua Small.
Ball possession was the name of the game for the Cayman boys, frustrating their opponents, as three yellow cards were brandished in the space of 10 minutes for some heavy fouls.
With victory secure, Cayman ran out the clock with some fine possession football, earning another excellent win without conceding a goal.
Following the victory, a very pleased Coach Bruce Sigsworth said, “Our boys did extremely well in doing what they were taught to do against a very physical USVI team. They did well to keep their heads when challenged. Another clean sheet is a good sign that our defence is working well together, along with our goalkeeper, who saved a penalty. We look to build on what we have practiced and hope to improve our play over the final two games.”
Next up for the Cayman Islands is St. Vincent and The Grenadines on Friday, followed by a final game against Nicaragua on Sunday.