Michelle Montero (#9) points to the sky after scoring for Costa Rica during its 1-1 draw with Jamaica in a CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship match on January 13, 2014, in George Town, Cayman Islands. (Photo: Mexsport)
Player of the Match presented by CONCACAF’s Technical Study Group: Mariela Vasquez (Costa Rica)
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands – Costa Rica scored an early goal, conceded one in the second half and held on for a 1-1 draw with Jamaica to progress on Monday to the semifinals of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship.
The Central Americans clinched second place in Group A with four points, two more than Jamaica. The United States (6 points) will keep the top spot regardless of its result against Guatemala later in the evening. It proved to be a drama-filled affair at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex as the Central Americans needed only to avoid a loss.
That task was made easier in the seventh minute, when the Ticas grabbed a 1-0 lead. Melissa Herrera sent a diagonal ball through the box that Michelle Montero tapped into the net, while sliding into the left post.
Needing a victory and sensing urgency, the Reggae Girlz lifted the level of their play immediately and sustained long periods of possession.
Only two minutes later, Marlo Sweatman headed over the Costa Rican crossbar off a feed from the outstanding Khadija Shaw.
Alexa Allen fired off a shot from the top of the box in the 33rd minute that was saved by goalkeeper Mariela Vasquez, who would remain active for much of what was left in the encounter.
More good work from Shaw enabled the Caribbean champion to equalize 11 minutes after the break. The talented 16-year-old did well to win possession in the middle and then ran wide with the ball down the left, before supplying a perfect cross for Oshay Nelson Lawes to nod home.
In the 70th minute, Trudi Carter’s effort from 23-yards forced Vasquez into a two-touch acrobatic stop. The Costa Rican popped the initial shot in the air and then somehow contorted her body to tap the ball away for a corner kick.
Vasquez demonstrated bravery once again in the 77th minute, crashing into the left post to block a Shaw headers.
Shaw, who was named the most outstanding player at the Caribbean Under-20 qualifying tournament last year, nearly got the winner in the 82nd minute. The Harbour View star chested a throw-in, turned quickly and struck the crossbar from just beyond the right side of the box.
Herrera had the game’s last chance, but Jamaica goalkeeper Taylor Grant charged out of her net to make the save as the Costa Rican tried to poke the ball past her.