Action from the CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship match between the United States (left) and Jamaica on January 11, 2014, in George Town, Cayman Islands. (Photo: Mexsport)
Player of the Match presented by CONCACAF’s Technical Study Group: Rose Lavelle (USA)
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands – The United States became the first team to seal a semifinal place in the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship with a game to spare thanks to a 3-0 win over Jamaica on Saturday
The Americans now own sole possession of first place in Group A with six points, three ahead of second-place Costa Rica. Jamaica and Guatemala have a point each, but the Caribbean champion is in third on goal difference.
A crowd of 2,500 at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex witnessed a hard-fought contest, which had all the features of a tense final rather than a second group game.
The Jamaicans came out in a compact formation, looking to limit space in the middle of the field.
The tactic was effective until the 31st minute, when a neat build up unlocked the Reggae Girlz’s defense. Rose Lavelle played a pass to Morgan Andrews on the right, who sent a diagonal ball to Savannah Jordan positioned in the box. In a moment of brilliance, the 18-year-old forward received with her chest and chipped deftly over goalkeeper Chris-Ann Chambers from six-yards out.
Seven minutes later, France-based Lindsey Horan fired a right-footed rocket from distance that Chambers remarkably tipped out for a corner kick.
The U.S. doubled its advantage five minutes before the break. Rachel Hill unleashed an attempt for which Chambers instinctively dived to her right to make a sprawling save. Horan got to the loose ball near the goal line and was taken down for a penalty kick. The team’s youngest player and its captain, Andi Sullivan, calmly converted inside the right post.
After escaping danger 11 minutes into the second half, when Konya Plummer cleared a Horan effort off the line, Jamaica had its best chance of the night. A swerving left-footed shot from 30-yards out by Trudi Carter, though, was pulled in by goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland.
With eight minutes left in regulation, the U.S. netted an insurance goal. Margaret Purce powerfully burst down the left side and, from the goal line, slipped a pass for McKenzie Meehan to poke home from six yards.
It was a tournament-record extending 12th straight victory for the Americans, who conclude group play on Monday against Guatemala. Jamaica will need to defeat Costa Rica the same day in order to advance.