Bermuda endure mixed fortunes at CAC hockey qualifiers
Bermuda endured mixed fortunes at the Central American and Caribbean Games field hockey qualifying tournament at the Flora Duffy Stadium on Thursday.
The national women’s team came from behind to edge Jamaica 2-1 in their opening group match to begin their campaign on the front foot.
However, the national men’s team’s qualifying bid suffered a setback after slumping to a heavy 4-1 defeat against Jamaica.
Bermuda’s women got off to a slow start and were forced to chase the match after Shareeka Elliott’s field goal from the tightest of angles in the D gave Jamaica the lead in the third quarter.
However, Bermuda rallied in the final quarter and scored two unanswered goals from Georgia Harris and Maya Palacio to secure the points.
Harris converted from a short corner on the left side of the D before fellow forward Palacio slapped in the winning field goal from defender LaKae Tavares’s cross from the right side.
“We have so much pride and this is like our passion,” Tse Minors, the Bermuda captain, told The Royal Gazette. “That’s what kept us going and we never put our heads down.
“I cannot really explain how much passion these girls have and how much we want to qualify for this.
“Obviously Jamaica was fast but I think we were more skilful and we capitalised where they fell short.
“We had set out a goal at the beginning and this is exactly where we wanted to go. We are starting off with three points and I am so proud of these girls.”
Kovin Moodley, the Bermuda coach, was equally proud of his players’ gutsy display.
“I am so proud of the girls,” he said. “We were a goal down and we managed to come back and equalise and then get the second one playing beautiful hockey.
“Fair play to Jamaica, they did put us under pressure for the first half but to come out with a win is always a great thing.”
Puerto Rico edged Guyana 1-0 in the opening match of the women’s competition played earlier in the day.
The national men’s team took to the field keen to build on their momentum having held top-seeds Puerto Rico to a goalless draw in their opening match of the tournament the previous day.
However, they were in for a rude awakening as they were overpowered by a technically and tactically superior Jamaica team that dominated the match.
Brandon Clarke gave Jamaica the lead from a field goal in the first quarter. Phillip Dawson then added a second in the second quarter from a short corner to give his team a 2-0 cushion at the interval.
Additional goals from Tyrone Vernon and Richard Harris in the fourth quarter put the game further beyond Bermuda’s reach.
However, Jamaica were ultimately denied the shutout victory their polished display warranted as Donovan Simmons scored a consolation for the hosts in the final minute of the match.
“I think hats off to Jamaica,” Moodley said. “They showed that they can control the tempo of the game and were very dominant and very strong.
“I think today our boys just sort of lost a little bit of their edge and we got capitalised by a really strong team.”
Bermuda were limited to only two shots during the match with Simmons’s late consolation being the island’s first and only goal in the tournament to date.
“I think finishing the game with a goal just gave us a bit of perspective,” Moodley added. “It showed us that we can actually compete and we can put the ball in the back of the net.
“I think there were plenty of opportunities for us getting circle entries. I think we have to go back to the drawing board and just trying to find out how we can work from getting the circle entry to actually getting the shot on target and eventually the goal is the next phase for us.”
Ajani Burton, the Jamaica captain, hailed his team’s impressive display.
“We pride ourselves on running hard on and off the ball and also keeping ball possession, and that’s exactly what we did today,” he said.
“There is still room for improvement, but we are grateful for the win. We are grateful for how we dominated the game; controlling the ball and controlling the pace of the game.”
Jamaica played to a 1-1 draw against Puerto Rico earlier in the day.
Bermuda and Jamaica will do battle again in the only match scheduled for Friday.
The match will be of vital importance for the hosts who cannot afford any further setbacks if they are to secure one of the two qualifying spots for next year’s CAC Games in El Salvador.
Jamaica top the standings with four points, followed by Puerto Rico with two and Bermuda one at the halfway stage of the men’s competition.