Guatemala's Aisha Solorzano (#14), who was named Player of the Match, dribbles against Jamaica in their CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship encounter on January 9, 2014, in George Town, Cayman Islands. (Photo: Mexsport)
Player of the Match: Aisha Solorzano (Guatemala)
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands – Guatemala and Jamaica launched the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship on Thursday with an entertaining 0-0 draw in Group A at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
In an encounter marked by Jamaica’s robust offensive display in the first-half and the Guatemalans increasing confidence throughout the evening, neither team could find the back of the net, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
The Caribbean champion enjoyed significant periods of positive play, lifted by the active Oshay Nelson Lawes. Within 35 minutes, the 17-year-old forward saw a right-footed lunge from close range sail just over the crossbar and another effort hit the outside netting.
The Reggae Girlz’ best chance came earlier, though, when Kayla Gray did well to win possession on the right side. She delivered a cross that landed tantalizingly in front of the Guatemalan goal. Nicole Harris, who was most likely not expecting the ball to reach her, could not apply the finishing touch.
Guatemala, though, produced the clearest opportunity four minutes before the break.
The impressive Aisha Solorzano dribbled down the middle of the field and, as three defenders converged, slipped a pass towards Mia Espino, who was hustling down the right. Espino, as she was falling, looped an attempt towards goal from 18-yards-out that hit the crossbar and goal line.
Following the break, both sides went back on the attack, but Jamaica almost drew first blood.
In the 57th minute, shortly after entering as a substitute, Alexa Allen bounced a shot through the box that nearly tucked inside the left post.
Jamaican goalkeeper Taylor Grant then left the field with an apparent leg injury and her replacement, Chris-Ann Chambers, was tested immediately.
Lauren Markwith fired just wide of the substitute’s left post from 26-yards out in the 66th minute.
Seconds later, Chambers sprinted out of her penalty area to clear a ball from danger.
With nine minutes left in regulation time, Nelson Lawes forced a save from goalkeeper Yoselin Franco, who leaped acrobatically to knock down the shot at the right post.
Solorzano had two chances to net the late game-winner.
In the 89th, she broke down the middle of the field, only to float the ball over the crossbar.
Just before the final whistle blew, the 15-year-old outmuscled two Jamaican defenders, turned and struck wide of the left post.
Guatemala returns to action on Saturday against Costa Rica, while Jamaica will meet the United States the same day.