Bermuda sign off from qualifying campaign in style
Bermuda 6 Grenada 0
Naquita Robinson hailed her side after Bermuda signed off from their Concacaf W Championships qualifying campaign in style with a comprehensive victory over Grenada at the Flora Duffy Stadium last night.
While hopes of progressing from group C ended after defeats to Jamaica and Dominican Republic, the encounter still held great significance for Bermuda with it being the first Concacaf senior women’s match hosted on island.
Amid the fanfare, Bermuda more than lived up to the expectations of the near 800 fans in attendance, with a hat-trick from standout player Leilanni Nesbeth being added to by a Nia Christopher brace and a further goal from Victoria Davis, to wrap up an impressive performance fitting of the occasion.
While Robinson was delighted with the endeavours of her squad on the night, she was also well aware of the greater significance of the match itself and the benefits on the women’s game on island.
“Tonight was all about showing Bermuda what we are capable of and putting on a performance,” she said. “I think the squad came out and did the job that we wanted them to do and I was very impressed with how they performed.
“To play in front of a home crowd is very significant because of what we have moving forward. We’ll have more than 800 fans here next time because people will want to come out and watch these girls play.
“I’ve been saying it for ever that this team deserves to play in front of a home crowd and to see all the fans clapping the team off at the end and hearing the noise was great.
“It shows the younger players in the squad and in the women’s game the pathway is there to grow even further.”
Bermuda got off to the ideal start as Nesbeth broke the deadlock after just ten minutes. Receiving possession 25 yards from goal, she shifted the ball on to her right foot before drilling a low strike beyond the reach of Trianha Williams and into the bottom left corner.
The hosts were handed a golden opportunity to double their advantage in the 20th minute as Judy McIntosh was adjudged to have handled inside the area. Christopher took responsibility and made no mistake from the spot, beating the static Williams with ease.
Building on momentum, Williams was called into action to brilliantly deny Christopher from close range six minutes later, before the custodian somehow managed to tip Emily Cabral’s volley from point-blank range over the crossbar on the half-hour mark, keeping the scoreline at 2-0 at the interval.
Picking up where they left off in the first half, Bermuda added a third in the 53rd minute as Nesbeth doubled her tally with a sublime individual effort, weaving her way past two defenders before beating Williams with a low strike.
Nesbeth proved a constant thorn in the visiting team’s side and she was the architect for the fourth in the 72nd minute.
Running at the Grenada defence she was upended inside the area, leaving official Lizzet Garcia no choice but to award the hosts a second penalty. Nesbeth herself seized the opportunity to complete her hat-trick, firing past the helpless Williams.
With 15 minutes remaining Grenada replaced goalkeepers with Keona Salandy being introduced. Her first contribution was to prove an unfortunate one as she failed to deal with Davis’s drilled free kick from the left-hand side sufficiently, allowing the ball to squeeze through her hands and into the net.
Refusing to rest on their laurels, Bermuda added a sixth in the closing stages. Seizing upon a poor goal kick, substitute Jahni Simmons found Nesbeth, who in turn beat her marker before unselfishly sliding the ball across the box for Christopher to tap home into an empty net and wrap up the convincing victory.
“We wanted to come out here and show Bermuda what we are made of and make a mark as we keep taking steps forward,” said captain Eva Frazzoni.
“This is the first time that the women’s side has played in front of a home crowd and now I’m just really excited for what is next.
“The feeling is hard to put into words how special it was. I really hope people have seen what we are capable of and see how exciting the future is for the squad.
“This is just the start and we are making such big steps towards the future.”
Bermuda: Nesbeth 10, 53, 72 (pen); Christopher 20 (pen), 87; Davis77
Bermuda (5-3-1-1): M Pond ― K Goodchild (Sub: K Dill 73min), J Rempel, D Watson (sub: S Fisher 46min), D Ebbin (sub: K Brangman 78), V Davis ― T Edwards, E Frazzoni (sub: M Christian 78), E Cabral (sub: Jahni Simmons 58) ― L Nesbeth ― N Christopher. Substitutes not used: T Trott, Jahde Simmons, S Lowe, K Gibbons, K Burch, J Ratteray-Smith, K Nanette. Booked: Goodchild, Christian, M Lowe (coach).
Grenada (3-5-2): T Williams (sub: K Salandy 75) ― A Adewunmi, K Jeffery, J McIntosh ―K Julien (sub: R Lewis 75), M Fullerton, G John, S Johnson (sub: T Stephens 62), E Sylvester (sub: T Valcin 62) ― S Charles, R Frank. Substitutes not used: C John, K Fletcher, T Jones, R Bubb, S Fleming, S George, R Noel, N Hood. Booked: Jeffrey
Referee: L Garcia (Mexico)