Unbeaten Bermuda women savour CAC Games qualification
It was a day of mixed fortunes at the Flora Duffy Stadium, yesterday as Bermuda women finished on top of their Central American and Caribbean Games qualifying group, while the men’s team fell short in their bid to seal qualification to El Salvador next year.
Fresh from confirming their spot at the Games with a 1-0 victory over Guyana a day previously, the women played out a 0-0 draw against second-placed Puerto Rico to close out the tournament unbeaten.
The men’s team wrapped up proceedings with a 3-0 defeat against Puerto Rico, who clinched the last of two qualifying spots, alongside Jamaica.
The opening match of the day saw Jamaica’s women beat Guyana 1-0 to claim their first win of the tournament, putting pressure on Puerto Rico to get at least a draw after the win moved them level on points with Puerto Rico ahead of their match with Bermuda.
Both Bermuda and Puerto Rico had chances to claim victory in the women’s match, with Bermuda forced to leave out captain Tse Minors with a knee injury.
Christina Stephens-Weser, the Bermuda goalkeeper, made a good save midway through the second quarter to keep out a shot from Taylor Lehrmann at the near post after Lehmann ran past Bermuda defender Lakae Tavares before getting off her shot.
Early pressure in the second half gave Puerto Rico hope of inflicting a first loss on Bermuda, who still looked dangerous on the break. Bermuda came close to scoring when a ball was hit into the Puerto Rico goal area before Maya Palacio got her stick to it before deflecting it wide.
Lauren Cardwell of Bermuda then had a shot blocked by the Puerto Rico goalkeeper in the fourth quarter as the game hung in the balance with Puerto Rico also going close.
“The main thing is we finished the tournament unbeaten, we would have loved to come out with three wins from three but qualification yesterday may have taken a bit of the motivation out of the girls,” said coach Kovin Moodley afterwards.
“In moments we saw that we are quite a dominant team and can control the game so there is a lot to build on going forward. The legs were a bit tired and a few players were carrying injuries which put pressure on the ladies to try to run for the full 60 minutes.
“We came in with a target of going harder today and I am so proud of the girls,” Moodley said after the victory.
“You come to a tournament and you obviously want to win every single game, and to be able to achieve that is icing on the cake.
“They realised what was at stake and they had me on edge. I lost my voice and my heart was racing, but this is why we love sport.
“It was a 0-0 game all the way up until the end and it was that counter-attack goal. Really exciting for us and we are off to the CAC Games.”
Minors, the Bermuda captain, was equally as thrilled to see her side achieve their objective.
“It feels great and I literally spoke this into existence, so that feels awesome,” she said.
“I know I kept saying it, but to see everything come to light and see how it worked just means everything to us.”
Maha Clarke, the Bermuda midfielder, was named the women’s Player of the Tournament during the prize presentation as the women’s teams danced with the Gombeys.
“Honestly I was very surprised, but also ecstatic and really grateful for my team for pulling out the wins,” said the 23 year-old.
“In 2017 we were not able to qualify for the CAC’s, so this year to not only qualify but to remain undefeated is so big for us. We’re so thankful for our coaches and management for al the support, and of course all the people who came out to support us.”
Bermuda’s men’s team put up a good fight but found Puerto Rico too strong in their final match. Bermuda needed a win to advance but it was Puerto Rico who took the lead in the seventh minute through Joseph Agosto following a penalty corner.
Bermuda battled hard to get back into the game, earning a couple of penalty corners as Hemijah Bean had his shot from one short corner blocked on the line.
Kenneth Rodriguez doubled the Puerto Rico lead in the 36th minute when he placed his penalty to goalkeeper Justin Dill’s right.
Bermuda kept battling late in the game in the hopes of a late rally but it was Puerto Rico who sealed a deserved win with Agosto’s second goal of the game in the 59th minute.
“We are very happy with qualification, it’s very satisfying for us,” said coach Hector Motta Rios, who earlier also watched the women’s team qualify.