• Sunday Mar 04, 2012

    Panama reaches U-20 women's semis for first time

    PANAMA CITY - A 48th-minute goal by Yessenia Zorrilla sparked Panama to a 3-1 win over Guatemala on Sunday and sent the Canaleros to the knockout round of the CONCACAF Under-20 Women's Championship for the first time in four tries.

    Zorrilla's strike - a left-footed lofted effort - sailed over the head of Guatemala keeper Stephanie Castellon, who appeared to misread it and was late in retreating before it skipped in off the underside of the crossbar.

    The result improved the host to six points in Group B and just behind on goal difference to the United States, which also advanced with its 6-0 win over Cuba earlier Sunday.

    The Americans and Panamanians will face off on Tuesday for the Group B title, with the winner facing the Group A runner-up in Friday's semifinals. The second-place finisher will play the Group A winner.

    Second-half substitute Mayra Jordan added an insurance goal in the 82nd for Panama, which had won only once in nine games in three previous trips to the CONCACAF finals. Guatemala was eliminated from knockout round contention with its second loss.

    Guatemala had the better of play in the first half, testing Panamanian keeper Dayton Wetherby as early as the fifth minute. Maria Monterroso, daughter of Guatemala coach Benjamin Monterroso, ran onto a through ball and flicked a ball that Wetherby - who came off her line - was able to deflect just enough to send it wide of the right post.

    The Chapines continued to have the better chances throughout the half, but Panama took the lead in the 39th after Guatemala defender Mia Espino hauled down Natalia Mills with a lunging right right foot between the legs from behind just outside the arc.

    Mills responded by curling the ensuing free kick over the wall and just inside the left post.

    Panama's euphoria lasted less than a minute as from Guatemala's kickoff, Monterroso - who after scoring four goals in qualifying missed the tournament opener against the United States with an injury, ran onto a long ball out of the defensive half, outraced Panama defender Onelys Alvarado and beat Wetherby from the corner of the six with a low right-footed effort.

    Guatemala continued to test Wetherby in the second half, including having a goal disallowed for a foul in the 50th and a seemingly golden chance when by ball bounced to the edge of the six in the 76th, but Daniela Andrade sent the ball high.

    Panama assured itself of advancing when Karla Riley stole the ball from Guatemala's Marily Rivera inside the offensive third and sent a low rolling cross to Jordan, who stuck it first time inside the penalty area and beat Castellon with a shot inside the far-side netting.

    Guatemala will face Cuba in a consolation match Tuesday before the United States plays Panama.

     

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