Action from the CONCACAF Under-17 Women's Championship match between Canada (white jersey) and Haiti on March 7, 2016, in St. George's Grenada. (Photo: Mexsport)
ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada – With a game to spare Haiti and Canada earned places in the 2016 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship semifinals.
First place, however, wasn’t decided until they squared off against each other in the Group A finale for each. The Haitians completed a magical and perfect opening round with a come-from-behind 2-1 win.
That match wasn’t the only excitement produced by the quartet that included host and debutant Grenada, plus Guatemala.
CONCACAF.com looks back first at Group A, while Group B will get its due Thursday.
GROUP A RESULTS & TABLE
March 3, 2016: Guatemala 0, Canada 3; Grenada 0, Haiti 13
March 5, 2016: Haiti 3, Guatemala 2; Canada 7, Grenada 0
March 7, 2016: Canada 1, Haiti 2; Grenada 0, Guatemala 7
It wasn’t implausible to think that Haiti had the potential to do well at the CU17W, but the level of success achieved over the course of three games has been a sensational development.
In six outings covering two previous CU17W appearances, the Haitians had never won and scored only one goal, posting an all-time record of 0W-1D-5L. In Grenada, however, they went a perfect 3-0-0 and struck for a group-stage best 18 goals – including a tournament-equaling record 13 in a win over Grenada.
Head coach Shek Borkowski has spent four years building the women’s program and his efforts are bearing fruit. While star attacker Nerilia Mondesir (14 goals in Caribbean qualifying for the CU17W) has been in irresistible form with a co-tournament best five goals and two assists, Haiti has received contributions from many others.
Mikerline Saint Felix is only one of two players in the competition to score in each group game (USA’s Ashley Sanchez is the other), matching Mondesir’s five-goal haul in only 137 minutes of action.
Roseline Eloissaint (3 assists) has been electric down the right side of the field, while Melchie 'Coventina' Daelle Dumonay has been a constant thorn in the side of opposing midfielders.
The defense has grown throughout thanks to the steady -- if not spectacular -- play of goalkeeper Kerly Theus, as well as Nandie Deshommes and Emeline Charles.
Additionally, forward Shelsie Melissa Dacius has been a clutch performer, converting the penalty kick that broke a 1-1 deadlock with Canada.
Can Haiti take the next step and qualify for the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup? At this point, there aren’t many doubters.
On the field, Grenada’s CU17W task was never going to be an easy one. The 20-player roster consisted of 13 squad members born in 2001 or later, including seven born after 2012. At 10-years-old, forward Melania Fullerton was the youngest, starting in all three games.
Despite its inexperience at this level of play and results that didn’t go its way, Grenada gave supreme effort and has set a foundation for future development. The enthusiasm to compete in upcoming Caribbean and CONCACAF tournaments is clearly evident.
“It’s all for our country,” said defender Samantha McQueen. “It’s the first time and we don’t know if it will happen again, so we tried to make the best of it. It’s a learning experience for all of us. We’ll try to go forward from this.”
MAYEN, MARTINEZ SHINE LIGHT ON GUATEMALA’S FUTURE
Despite being only 16-years-old each, defenders Kellin Mayen and Didra Martinez were featured in prominent roles for Guatemala at the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship. Mayen played in all three games (starting twice), while Martinez competed in two (starting once). Both were outstanding in Grenada, showing off offensive components to their games. Mayen could often be seen up field, ultimately scoring two goals and contributing with a pair of assists. Martinez added a goal, while her free kick eventually led to Maria Herrarte’s goal against Grenada. The duo undoubtedly have plenty more to offer and their continued development will be fascinating to watch.
CANADA’S WORLD CUP EXPERIENCE
Four players on Canada’s roster were also on the squad list for the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. Sarah Stratigakis (4 games) and forward Anyssa Ibrahim (1 game) saw time on the field in Costa Rica, while Lysianne Proulx and defender Nahida Baalbaki gained valuable experience despite not playing. Will they also make the trip to Jordan for the next edition?