Jaden Masters fires Bermuda past Dominican Republic in opening qualifier
Bermuda 2 Dominican Republic 0
Jaden Masters marked her return to international action with a first-half brace to fire Bermuda to their first win over Dominican Republic and get the island’s Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup qualifying campaign off to the perfect start at Flora Duffy Stadium last night.
Masters, 20, was appearing for Bermuda for the first time since February last year after tearing her left anterior cruciate ligament against Jamaica. She gave Bermuda the lead with a sensational long-range effort in the tenth minute, before adding a second just before the break with another exquisite finish.
It was an emotional moment for the University of Houston midfielder who received a standing ovation from the over 800 spectators when she was replaced by Akeyla Furbert in the 93rd minute.
“I’m lost for words, those who know me they know my story,’’ Masters said, who along with Nia Christopher will not available for Bermuda’s next League B, group C encounter away to St Vincent & the Grenadines on Tuesday due to having to return to their respective colleges in the United States.
“I’ve been through it. It was a well deserved goal [first goal]. I knew that was my range so I just shot and it was in the back of the net.
“At the end of the day we put in the work, everything that happened behind closed doors we left everything on that field.
“Thanks to our supporters, because we could not do it without them.
“You could tell with the celebration for second goal, it was just emotional.
“The last time I played for Bermuda was in Jamaica and that is when I got taken out and it took me out for the rest of 2022. It was just emotional and it’s a blessing to finally be back.”
Coach Naquita Robinson was delighted for Masters whose career appeared to be over after a second long lay off.
“I’m not sure why I didn't cry,’’ Robinson said. “When you know Jaden’s story, four ACL tears, five surgeries, broken leg to fix the last one.
“I’m so proud of her, you look in the dictionary and look for persistence, there’s got to be her picture.
“I've never met a player so determined as Jaden, tonight is very special for her and for her family.
“There was a point where it was almost she was going to sit next to me, we’re going to coach together so I’m so happy for her.
“She deserves this for her resilience, for her love for this country and love for the sport and love for her team-mates.”
As well as her delight for Masters individual performance, Robinson was also quick to hail the collective effort of her side.
“They gave me what I asked for, executed everything perfectly,’’ Robinson said.
“Did we have some lapses? absolutely they’re not machines they’re humans so there was going to be times when they ran out of gas and they weren't able to think as we needed them to.
“However, their recovery tonight was absolutely amazing, when they lost the ball, they always felt comfortable knowing that someone was there to cover them.
“Before this match, I just asked to give me everything they had. I could not ask for anything more.
“At the end of the day I’ve been saying it for a while that these girls are in a fantastic space, they’ve been friends, sisters and family for so long.
“This is just the result of the process. We've had some dark days but to beat Dominican Republic for the first time every, to not concede, we haven't conceded a goal in our last eight matches
“To not concede a goal and to beat Dominican Republic for the very first time it’s going to be beautiful to see Bermuda at the top of the table after this performance.”
Bermuda goalkeeper Zakhari Turner was called into action in the seventh minute to keep out an attempt by Dominican captain Lucia Marte.
Christopher set up Masters in the ninth minute but the forward was not able to capitalise, before the former again turned provider for captain Eva Frazzoni whose effort agonisingly went wide.
However, Masters found a breakthrough just a minute later, opening the scoring in spectacular style. Receiving a pass from Aaliyah Nolan, she capitalised on the space afforded to her, shifting the ball on to her left foot before unleashing an effort beyond the reach of Odaliana Gomez and into the top right corner.
Just before the break, Masters latched onto a long clearance and lobbed the ball over the advancing Dominican keeper Gomez to double her and Bermuda’s tally.
Dominican fought back hard in the second half, but the home side remained resolute in defence, ensuring a clean sheet and valuable three points to kick off the campaign.
Bermuda: J Masters 10, 45+1
Bermuda (4-3-3): Z Turner 7 – K Goodchild 7, T Fubler 8, V Davis 6, D Watson 5 (sub: S Fisher, 46min 6) – T Edwards 6 (sub: K Brangman, 62 5), E Frazzoni 7, J Masters 8 (sub: A Furbert, 90) – N Christopher 7, A Nolan 5 (sub: Symira Darrell, 62 4), A Tutas 5 (sub: J Ratteray-Smith, 73) Substitutes not used: D Brown, Samara Darrell, K Burch, Jahde Simmons, J Smith, Jahni Simmons. Booked: Fubler, Watson, Edwards, Nolan, Ratteray-Smith.
Dominican Republic (4-3-3): O Gomez 5 – N Colon 5, B Reed 6, G Cuevas, K Gil 5 – C Alcantara 6 (sub: J Moya, 73), W Peralta 6, L Marte 7- L Clase 5 (sub: J Vallecillo, 46), V Kara 7, A Oviedo 5. Substitutes not used: M Minyety, N Martinez, L Urena, P Then, E Ostrpolsky, Y Brito, C Acosta, M Torriera, Booked: Clase.
Referee: K Hernandez (Mexico)