Costa Rica celebrates after winning the match for third place at the CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship and qualifying for the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup on January 19, 2014, at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in George Town, Cayman Islands. (Photo: Mexsport)
Player of the Match presented by CONCACAF’s Technical Study Group: Melissa Herrera (Costa Rica)
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands – Nicole Araya booked Costa Rica’s ticket to the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup on Sunday, striking for a pair of goals to open extra time and lifting her team to a 7-3 win over Trinidad & Tobago in the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship’s match for third place at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
Trinidad was less than 20 minutes away from becoming the first Caribbean side to qualify for a FIFA Women’s World Cup at any level, when the Central Americans started a rally to recover from a two-goal deficit, scoring six unanswered goals.
Araya broke a 3-3 deadlock in the 94th minute, when a right-sided cross from Noelle Sanz bounced in the penalty area, allowing the unmarked Saprissa forward to blast home from 12-yards out.
Two minutes later, the 19-year-old athletically threw herself at a Michelle Rodriguez corner kick to volley brilliantly off the hands of goalkeeper Keri Myers and into the upper-left corner.
In the 115th minute, Katheryn Arroyo netted neatly with the outside of her right foot after being released on a telling through ball to make it 6-3.
Mariana Benavidez completed the scoreline seconds into stoppage time with a dazzling free kick from 45-yards out that found the upper-left corner with exquisite accuracy.
It was a stunning reversal for the Soca Princesses, who did extremely well to carve out a 3-1 lead by half-time.
Anique Walker scored the first of her two goals in the 16th minute to give Trinidad a 1-0 lead. Shenelle Henry latched on to a Khadidra Debesette effort and alertly dropped the ball back for the 18-year-old to left-foot past diving goalkeeper Mariela Vasquez from 15-yards out.
Trinidad continued to look dangerous and shortly after Patrice Campbell hit the outside of the left post, Walker netted again in the 28th minute. This time, the Central FC forward headed a free kick lofted into the box by Jonelle Warrick off Vasquez’s fingertips and into the net.
Costa Rica got on the scoreboard in the 33rd minute. The outstanding Melissa Herrera charged into the right side of the Trinidad box and directed the ball towards goal after the sprawling Myers impeded it with her hands. Warrick made a block four yards from goal, only to give inadvertently possession back to Herrera. The 17-year-old placed the ball easily inside the near post.
Four minutes before the break, Khadisha Debesette restored the two-goal cushion with one of the strikes of the tournament. Benavidez cleared the ball out of her box directly to Debesette. Without reluctance and with perfect technique, the defender slammed it from 28-yards out just underneath the crossbar.
Yesmi Rodriguez started the Costa Rican comeback in the 71st minute with her third goal of the competition. Initially miskicking a punched cross by Myers, she lobbed the second attempt over the stranded goalkeeper and inside the left post from 17-yards out.
The Ticas levelled the score at 3-3 with five minutes left in normal time. A pass was floated near the edge of the Trinidad penalty area and took a roguish backspin. The ball ended up on the foot of Michelle Montero, who slammed it into the back of the net.
Costa Rica qualified for its second U-20 Women’s World Cup and first since 2010.