Guatemala celebrates after posting a 1-0 win over visiting Panama in a Women's World Cup qualifier on May 20, 2014, at the Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City.
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – Thanks to the hands of goalkeeper Yoselin Franco and the finishing prowess of Maria Monterroso, host Guatemala opened its Women’s World Cup Qualifying campaign on Tuesday with a 1-0 win over Panama.
Though Monterroso netted the game-winner in the 24th minute, it was Franco who made a crucial save on a Natalia Mills penalty kick six minutes after the break.
Both then breathed a sigh of relief as Arianys Arguelles missed on another kick from the spot late in the game.
Despite some nervy moments at the Estadio Mateo Flores, regardless of how it was accomplished, securing three points was the Guatemalans’ top priority.
"We have to go on,” said Monterroso, 20, who scored four goals at the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament for the national team. “This game is dedicated to all the people who came to support us. The match was very nervous because the Panamanians began to pressure more, but we knew to counteract all that. And thanks to God, we were given the result.”
At only 19-years-old, Franco has earned the responsibility of guarding Guatemala’s goal. She captained the Chapinas at the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship in the Cayman Islands earlier this year and now is a key member of the senior squad.
While the goalkeeper was pivotal to the victory, she was quick to commend her colleagues.
"I am very excited about the win,” Franco told CONCACAF.com. “I think it was a back and forth game in which all my teammates gave a complete effort.
"The toughest save of the game was the penalty. I waited until the last minute to dive. The credit is not only for the goalkeeper, but for the whole team.”
Meanwhile, Guatemala head coach Benjamin Monterroso agreed that the match was tightly contested and praised Franco’s good work.
"It was an even game with chances to score on both goals,” he noted. “We took advantage of one of the opportunities. The triumph was, in part, due to the work and ability of our goalkeeper.
"It's a small step that we are taking. We do not want to happen to us what happened to other selections that take a step and then go back.”
It doesn’t get any easier for Guatemala as an encounter against Honduras, which defeated Belize 8-0, awaits on Thursday.
“It will be a difficult game against Honduras because they have a very strong defense,” Monterroso concluded. “They have great players, but we have many hopes that help us respond to adverse situations.”