Action between the USA (white jersey) and Mexico in a CONCACAF Under-17 Women's Championship match on March 6, 2016, in St. George's, Grenada. (Photo: Mexsport)
ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada – While the 2016 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship semifinalists from Group A were decided with a matchday to spare, Group B provided more dramatic competition. On the final afternoon of group-stage play, each of the four sides had a chance to advance or be eliminated.
Ultimately, the United States and defending champion Mexico emerged with victories to earn the pair of places on offer.
CONCACAF.com looks back at Group A:
GROUP A RESULTS & TABLE
March 4, 2016: Mexico 4, Costa Rica 2; Jamaica 1, USA 8
March 6, 2016: Costa Rica 3, Jamaica 2; USA 1, Mexico 0
March 8, 2016: USA 2, Costa Rica 0; Mexico 1, Jamaica 0
- The USA continued its streak of never drawing or losing a CU17W group-stage game, posting a perfect 3W-0D-0L record and improving to 15-0-0 all-time.
- In all-time CU17W group-stage play, the U.S. has scored 102 goals and conceded only two for a goal difference of +100. No other team in the tournament’s history has yet to approach 100 goals scored in group-stage and knockout-round play combined…never mind have a positive three-digit goal difference in group-stage matches alone.
- The USA has scored a CU17 best 130 all-time goals, six more than the next two highest scoring teams combined (Canada 71; Mexico 53).
- The USA’s Frankie Tagliaferri joined Nerilia Mondesir of Haiti as the only players to score four goals in a 2016 CU17W match. What made Tagliaferri’s goal haul so remarkable was that she entered the 8-1 win against Jamaica in the 70th minute as a substitute for Sydney Zardi. By the time the 88th minute arrived, the PDA forward had put a quartet of goals into the back of the net.
- The USA’s Civana Kuhlmann is the only player to score in both the 2013 and the 2016 CU17W.
- The USA’s Ashley Sanchez and Mikerline Saint Felix of Haiti were the only players to score in each of their three group-stage matches.
- Mexico seven-match CU17W unbeaten streak was snapped after a 1-0 loss to the USA. It was the Tricolor’s longest-ever run in the competition without a loss.
- The USA has netted 11 goals in 2016 CU17W play, its lowest group-stage total in CU17W history. The previous low was 17 in 2013.
- Frankie Tagliaferri became the fourth player from the U.S. to score four goals or more in a CU17W match. The others are Lindsey Horan (2010: 4 v Haiti); Summer Green (2012: 5 v Bahamas); Zoe Redei (2013: 4 v Guatemala).
- Jamaica’s Shayla Smart accomplished one of the rarest feats anywhere in football, when she netted in an 8-1 loss to the U.S. With that strike, the 15-year-old became only the fourth player to score against the Americans in a CU17W game. The others are: Katherine Alvarado (Costa Rica, 2008); Mariah Shade (Trinidad & Tobago, 2012) and Briana Woodall (Mexico, 2013).
- The USA’s Ashley Sanchez was the only player from Group B to score in both the 2016 CU17W and the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship. Three players from Group A accomplished the feat: Vital Kats (Canada), Nerilia Mondesir (Haiti) and Sarah Stratigakis (Canada).
GLORIANA VILLLOBOS’ BRIGHT COSTA RICA FUTURE
Despite being the recipient of some physical marking, Costa Rica midfielder Gloriana Villalobos continued to show why she is considered to be one of CONCACAF’s best young stars. The 16-year-old scored two goals and had one assist, while constantly drawing the attention of defenders.
The Saprissa standout won her first senior squad cap in May 2014 and is already a veteran of numerous international competitions, including the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship (3 games), the 2014 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. She was also on the roster for 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but did not see any action.
When observers think of Costa Rica’s best players, Shirley Cruz and Raquel Rodriguez Cedeño immediately spring to mind. Although there’s a long way to go, the 16-year-old Villalobos is following their same development track and seems poised to join that illustrious duo in the conversation about Tica greats.
MEXICO TARGETS SECOND STRAIGHT CU17W CROWN
Mexico entered the 2016 CU17W as the defending champion. In 2013, the Tricolor prevailed over Canada in the final, 4-2 on penalty kicks, after a scoreless draw. Remarkably, in that same competition, four of its five games ended in a stalemate. Less than three years later, Mexico remains in position for a repeat, but has done so without a tie.
Forward Daniela Espinosa has scored two goals and registered two assists, but the Mexican defense has been stellar. After conceding twice in a 4-2 opening win against Costa Rica, it has only conceded in the 73rd minute of a narrow 1-0 loss to the U.S.
In the semifinals, Mexico will come up against Haiti, which scored the most group-stage goals with 18, seven more than any other side.
Will a great defense shut down a great offense? That’s one of the intriguing final-four questions.