Day 5 was decider day for the women. Six of the eight teams came into the day with a mathematical chance of qualifying for the semi-finals. Mexico's was the only team already guaranteed a place.
Match 1 Pool B – Barbados (BAR) vs. Guatemala (GUA)
BAR came into the match in control of their destiny, needing a win to put pressure on JAM to beat table toppers TTO. They got the perfect start, needing only 17 seconds to steal the ball from the GUA midfielder on the way to an Ayanna WILSON goal. BAR took complete control of the game, but GUA slowly started to find their way. They eventually created a circle entry and put the BAR team under pressure, but it did not last long. BAR regained control to score 3 more goals before the quarter ended with the score at 4-0.
BAR continued to dominate the game in Q2, but the GUA defence was up to the task. Despite earning multiple PCs BAR was unable to score. Then in the 27th minute GUA got a counterattack on the right and the cross was scored by Desideria BERNARDO. The goal pushed BAR to respond and they finished the quarter strongly, scoring two PCs. The halftime score was BAR 6-1 GUA.
BAR continued their dominance in Q3, pressing high and attacking the GUA circle continuously. GUA was tenacious in their defending and they kept their opponents out throughout. BAR scored their 1st PC of the quarter with D’Jamila Edwards, but could not add another as the Q3 horn sounded.
Q4 got off to a quick start with two BAR PC goals before settling into the familiar pattern of play in the GUA defensive 23-metre area. GUA did manage a couple attacks, but were unable to score. BAR kept coming and they eventually reached double figures from yet another PC goal just before the end. They pushed for one more goal, but GUA were able to put the ball in the BAR half until the final horn sounded. Final score BAR 10-1 GUA.
Match 2 Pool A – Mexico (MEX) vs. Guyana (GUY)
With no chance of qualifying for the semi-finals GUY came into the match with pride uppermost in their mind. Despite already qualifying for the semi-finals, MEX had no intention of easing up. They needed just 5 minutes for Fernanda OVIEDO to give them the lead from a FG. GUY had no intention of making things easy and they managed to prevent any other goals before the Q1 horn sounded.
MEX continued to press in Q2, but GUY started keeping possession for a few short periods. This helped their defence stay fresh in the Baranquilla heat as they were not forced to chase the ball. They also managed a few 23-metre penetrations, but the MEX defence easily kept them off the score sheet. MEX continued to dominate possession, but were unable to score any more goals before the horn sounded for halftime.
MEX needed only 14 seconds in Q3 to score their second goal of the match. They pressured the GUY goal in search of more, but found Alysa XAVIER tough to beat. XAVIER made a number of crucial saves. Q3 ended with the score still MEX 2-0 GUY.
MEX’s dominance continued into Q4 and the GUY defence continued to deny them any additional goals. The ball did not get into the MEX half often and when it did, it did not stay for very long. For their dominance, MEX were unable to score as XAVIER put in an excellent performance. The final horn sounded on a 2-0 win for MEX, who await confirmation of their semi-final opponents.
Match 3 Pool B – Jamaica (JAM) vs. Trinidad & Tobago (TTO)
After BAR’s big earlier JAM needed a win over Pool B leaders TTO by at least 6 goals to qualify for the semi-finals. They started the more aggressive of the teams, pushing TTO back into their defensive 23-metre area for most of Q1. Besides a PC, they were unable to create anything dangerous and by the end of the quarter TTO was starting to force the play more to the middle of the field.
Early in Q2 TTO started gradually taking control of the game, earning a PC of their own that was well blocked by the JAM defenders. Despite having more possession now, TTO could not create any clear chances and the halftime horn came with the score still 0-0.
TTO continued to control the possession and flow of the game, putting JAM under early pressure. The pressure paid off when they earned a PS that Shaniah DE FREITAS put away for a 0-1 lead. The PS was her 5th goal of the tournament, putting her on top of the goal scorers list. TTO went in search of a second and they came close a few times, but Lorie-Ann McINTOSH made some good saves to keep the score 0-1 at the end of Q3.
Q4 started with TTO pressing for their second, but it was JAM who slowly started working the ball around. This slowed the pace of the game down which did not suit TTO who started making mistakes. JAM created a few chances, but Petal DERRY was alert making some comfortable saves to protect her team’s lead. JAM took control of the match searching for the equaliser and came close but a shot from Shareeka ELLIOTT narrowly missed the far post. The final horn sounded on a keenly contested game with the 0-1 win for TTO. The result meant that TTO and BAR qualify for the semi-finals with JAM and GUA preparing for 5-8th playoff matches.
Match 4 Pool A – Cuba (CUB) vs. Dominican Republic (DOM)
Our final match was a virtual quarter-final matchup between the Caribbean rivals, the winner moving on to the semi-finals to join MEX, TTO and BAR. DOM could move on with a draw. DOM started the match the better of the two, earning the first PC of the match that was easily blocked by the CUB team. They earned a second soon after which Lucia NAVAMUEL scored with a clever lob over Yusnaidy BETANCOURT in the CUB goal. DOM continued to control the game, earning a couple more PCs without adding to their score. Q1 ended with the score 0-1.
CUB started to get into rhythm, controlling the pace of the game with long passes leading to one-on-one situations. They started earning PCs and eventually one of them was scored when Yuraima VERA flicked past GK Paola DE LA CRUZ. CUB went in search of more goals, completely in control of the possession and flow of the game. They got what they were looking for when VERA hit past DE LA CRUZ with seconds to go in Q2. The halftime horn sounded with CUB leading 2-1.
Q3 saw an increase in the intensity of the game with more fouls and strong tackles. CUB earned a PC and Yaniuska PASO drilled it in the bottom corner to give them a 3-1 lead. DOM did not give up and they earned a PS that Bennifer MORONTA scored to keep the game interesting. The action moved end to end, but the horn sounded for a 3-2 score.
DOM came out aggressively looking for the equaliser that would send them into the semi-finals. The CUB defence kept them out while looking for counterattacking opportunities. Neither team was prepared to give anything away and a fierce midfield battle kept the spectators on the edge of their seats. The final horn sounded, and CUB earned a semi-final spot with their 3-2 win.
So the semi-finals will see MEX vs BAR and TTO vs. CUB The 5-8th playoffs see DOM vs. GUA and JAM vs. GUY.
Tomorrow is the final round of Pool play for the men which is beautifully poised as all 4 Pool A teams have a mathematical chance of moving on the semi-finals. Guyana have their fate in their hands, needing a win over Guatemala to guarantee a semi-final position. See you tomorrow for MEX vs. DOM, TTO vs. JAM, GUY vs. GUA, and CUB vs. BAR.