Bermuda inch closer to Colombia
Panama 0 Bermuda 4
The Bermuda women's field hockey team moved level on points with Jamaica at the top of the group at the Central American and Caribbean Games qualifiers in Kingston after recording their third clean sheet in as many games.
Maya Palacio, Renee Greenslade, Jasmine Patterson and Azari Thomas struck in the first quarter, while Jamaica's 0-0 draw with Guyana yesterday left them ahead of Bermuda on goal difference. The host nation and Bermuda have recorded two wins and a draw.
With the top two sides from the six-team tournament qualifying for the CAC Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, next year, Bermuda face crucial showdowns with third-placed Guyana today and Jamaica on Saturday.
After the match, livewire Thomas reiterated captain LaKae Tavares's claims before the tournament that Bermuda are not in Jamaica as makeweights.
“Bermuda's been working really hard for this and we came to win this tournament,” she said. “Normally we're here to try and [just] stop getting goals against us.”
Bermuda face what promises to be their two toughest matches next. Jamaica and Bermuda are on seven points, with Guyana and Puerto Rico, whom Bermuda drew 0-0 with on Sunday, on five. Panama and Guatemala have lost all three of their games.
Guyana are the next challenge, with the match starting at 11.30am Bermuda time today, before Bermuda take on Jamaica at 1pm on Saturday.
“We're going to try as hard as we can, we're going to give 100 per cent,” Thomas said of the Guyana clash. “Our [coaching staff] always say to act as though the game you're playing now is your final game. So this time we gave our all. We're going to practise, we're going to rub down our muscles and then we're going to give our all — 150 per cent.”
The victory over Panama put Bermuda top of the round-robin group, for a couple of hours, with Jamaica and Guyana not playing out their draw until later in the day.
“It is a great feeling,” Iman Smith, the Bermuda midfielder, said. “This is a position we've never been in; it's a lot to take in. I'm really proud of where everyone's come and the hard work that we keep pushing.”
Palacio opened the scoring with a lifted shot on goal, assisted by Alex Francis. Greenslade made it 2-0 after driving along the baseline on a difficult angle and pushed the ball into the back of the net.
Patterson, the vice-captain, made it 3-0 soon afterwards, finishing off her own dribble into the circle from the 16-yard hashmarks.
Thomas showed magnificent composure in the shooting circle for No 4 as she dragged the ball along her strong side and lifted it into the goal.
Bermuda could not add to their goal tally in the final three quarters, but the strength of the team is their resolute work without the ball.
If any team are to score against Bermuda in this tournament, make no mistake, they will have earned it.
Tavares again marshaled the Bermuda backline superbly, while the forwards did not let the Panama defence rest.
Time and again, the Panamanians tried to self-pass the ball out of their own half, but time again, the forward line, led by Patterson and Francis, were like vultures and would not let them get into any sort of rhythm.
Nevertheless, Palacio said there is room for improvement.
“We should have scored more,” she said. “We got our runs on, we just couldn't really connect with them in the last quarter.
“It sucks for us because we should have done better.”
Panama were more solid as the game wore on and had the occasional break, mainly sparked by Kersthy Montenegro, their most experienced player.
“They surprised us,” Smith said of Bermuda's opponents. “Panama made adjustments, put more pressure on us and it showed in the last quarter and they should be proud they kept it 0-0 for the last three quarters.”
Palacio 8, Greenslade 11, Patterson 13, Thomas 15
Panama: D Castro — I Beltran, C Murillo, C Portugal, Y Rodriguez, R Diaz, R Sanchez, K Santimateo, K Montenegro, Y Gonzalez, J Rodriguez. Substitutes: M Ramos, E Lezcano. Green cards: J Rodriguez, Beltran.
Bermuda: A Dunstan — M Palacio, S Whitter, T Mullan, M Clarke, A Thomas, L Tavares, K Robinson, R Greenslade, C Smith, A Francis. Substitutes: X Swan (GK), I Smith, T Booth, K White, J Patterson.
Umpires: S Adams (Jamaica), M Brand (Canada).