Cayman wins group, qualifies for CONCACAF tournament

They only needed to win by one goal, but the home team just could not stop scoring.

Cayman’s national team took a 7‑1 victory over Antigua and Barbuda on Sunday night to win their group and qualify for the CONCACAF Women’s U-17 Championship for the first time since 2009.

Shayana Windsor scored in the first minute for Cayman, and forward Molly Kehoe added four goals to put the game away. Alexia Broomfield and Kalie Ebanks also scored for Cayman in the rout.

“We knew before the game that if we won just 1‑0, we were golden,” said assistant coach Noel Kane. “They were a little nervous, but we told them, ‘Start quickly. Stay composed. Stay on the ball.’”

Cayman took the top spot in Qualifying Group B by virtue of a tiebreaker. It beat Dominica 8‑1 Wednesday and earned a 1‑1 draw with Martinique on Friday night. Martinique also wound up with two victories, but it managed just a +7 compared to Cayman’s +13 in goal differential.

Cayman is one of just four teams – along with Honduras, Belize and Guyana – that have qualified for the Knockout Stage of the 2020 U-17 Championship. Another 16 teams have qualified for the tournament, and they will be winnowed down to 12 before the Round of 16 Knockout Stage even begins.

The last time Cayman qualified for the U-17 championship, it lost one-sided games to Costa Rica and United States. Both USA and Costa Rica are among the teams vying for the 2020 U-17 Championship.

“This is what we aimed for. This is what we planned,” said Kane of qualifying. “We have to be realistic: This is where we meet the big teams now. But we deserve to get there and play against the best.”

Windsor scored almost immediately for Cayman, running into the box and playing a shot easily past the goalkeeper in the first minute. Kehoe got on the board in the 20th minute, and she made it a 3‑0 from the penalty spot after Antigua & Barbuda committed a rough tackle in the box.

Broomfield scored on a give-and-go with Kehoe in the 35th minute, and Antigua and Barbuda got on the scoreboard with a long shot off a set piece just five minutes later. Kehoe completed her hat-trick just moments before half-time, and Cayman went into the break with a four-goal cushion.

Kehoe scored again on a breakaway in the second half, and Ebanks scored on a cross into the box in the closing minutes. Cayman celebrated its achievement after the game, displaying the flag to the crowd and excitedly hugging and posing for photographs on the side of the field.

“Winning this was a great achievement for us because we’re the first group to win a qualifier like this since 2009,” said Cayman captain Artemis Deslandes-Hydes. “Winning this really encourages all the younger girls that are coming up in the grass roots to push themselves and do as good as we did.”