Cayman Islands football earned a win in the boardroom and a win on the field Friday, when FIFA president Gianni Infantino visited and the Cayman team came out on top of its group at the Caribbean Football Union’s Girls’ Under-14 Challenge Series.
Cayman used a 1‑1 draw against St. Lucia on Friday to win Group 2 on goal differential. The team’s 3‑0 shutout win over Curacao on Wednesday was crucial in the end result.
“Very intense game. We’re absolutely delighted,” said Cayman assistant coach Noel Kane. “I’m so happy for the girls. They really deserved that. They’ve worked so hard since late last year. They’ve been training for this. It really came true for us in a very tough game.”
St. Lucia took an early lead Friday night on a goal by Jerddel King-Emery, but Cayman nearly answered twice before the half. On the first occasion, St. Lucia’s goalie bobbled a ball and caught it a split-second before it crossed over the goalie.
On the next, the referee nearly assessed St. Lucia a penalty.
“I thought it was a penalty and then the ref called it the other way. I was happy,” said St. Lucia coach Denis Didier. “It’s a development competition, but we came down here to win. The kids gave their all and they fought gallantly. I think it was pretty even.”
Right after half-time, Cayman began pressing forward and challenging the St. Lucia defence. Forward Ashlyn Evans finally found pay dirt in the 42nd minute when she flashed into the box and slotted a diagonal shot past the goalie and into the corner of the net.
St. Lucia had tied Curacao 1‑1 and beaten Barbados by a 3‑2 score, and it needed a victory over Cayman to top the group. Cayman held on through the final minutes, and captain Alexia Bromfield accepted a plate from Governor Martyn Roper after the game.
Both coaches said they were proud of their teams for their effort.
“I think they were a little nervous at the start,” said Kane. “We went into the dressing room for half-time and said, ‘We still thought we were the better team but we needed a little more heart.’ St. Lucia played with a lot of heart so we needed to match them for that.”
“Things didn’t go our way,” said Didier of the final game. “But I must say hats off to the Cayman Islands team. They gave it a good fight.”