Proud coach: we must invest more in our youth
Naquita Robinson admits her under-15 girls were outclassed by a superior United States team in the Concacaf Tournament in Orlando on Wednesday.
The Bermuda girls crashed to a 12-0 defeat in the quarter-final after defender Megan Titterton was sent off in the twelfth minute.
The score was 2-0 at that stage after goals in the fifth and ninth minutes.
Titterton was dismissed for pulling down an opponent inside the box, the US then scored the resulting penalty to extend their lead.
Payton Linneham and Mia Fishel led the scoring for the US with hat-tricks, to take their tally for the tournament to seven and six respectively, while Gabrielle Robinson netted twice to make it seven for the tournament.
Madison Mercado also scored twice for the US who are playing in the tournament for the first time.
“Our girls played the best they could against such a powerhouse. USA are a well-oiled team,” Robinson, the Bermuda coach, said.
“These girls have spent the past two years together in training camps and learning about each other. We expressed to the girls before the match that the result was not the focus.
“They understood the task at hand and knew that they had to win their individual battles. After the first goal our girls kept going, but once the red card was received the battle got that much tougher.
“There were many positives from this game. The girls saw a higher level of play and are hungry for more.”
Bermuda were led in the scoring department by LeiLanni Nesbeth, their captain, who scored six goals in their three group wins over Cayman Islands, Bahamas and Antigua & Barbuda.
However, the US, who invest heavily in their girls programme, were a different proposition in the quarter-final, showing that their 22-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago was no fluke.
They only managed to beat Mexico and Haiti by 1-0 margins, before closing out the group stages with a 6-0 win over Dominican Republic.
In five matches the United States have now scored 42 unanswered goals going into today's semi-final with Costa Rica, who were 5-0 winners over St Lucia.
The other two quarter-final matches were also high scoring, with Canada thrashing Curaçao 10-0, and Mexico getting by Puerto Rico 10-1. Canada and Mexico will meet in the other semi-final match.
Nesbeth, who is on a cricket scholarship at St Bede's School in Sussex through the Bermuda Cricket Board, is showing tremendous promise as both a cricketer and footballer, with Brighton and Hove Albion signing her to their elite development programme on a one-year deal.
Brighton are one of only 20 clubs in Britain that have an elite programme for girls, and Nesbeth is only the second girl from Bede's to be offered a contract by a league club.
The two-sport star has already been signed to the Sussex County Cricket Academy programme at the under-15 level.
Robinson thinks it is that type of investment in the girls that will reap its rewards in the long run.
“My request is that someone will step up and invest in this group,” Robinson said. “We will need to spend more time away in training camps so the girls are continuously exposed to this level of play.
“There are overseas opportunities for our players and individuals who want to assist in their growth.
“Overall this was a very successful tournament. Our girls made Bermuda proud in the way they carried themselves on and off the field.
“Many of the CFU coaches and staff members complimented us on our progress and were proud of our success.”