ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada – Haiti had a let a two-goal lead slip away on Saturday, but it didn’t want its 2016 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship dream to suffer a similar fate.
The Caribbean runner-up was down a player after Wagnelda Millien’s 57th minute dismissal and Guatemala was pushing hard for a win after leveling the score at 2-2.
“Once they (Guatemala) scored a goal, their motivation level increased,” said Haiti head coach Shek Borkowski. “Our girls, lacking experience, they started getting a little bit nervous. Once they scored that second goal…of course, we lost a player to a second yellow card. That really complicated it for us. We had to change things a little bit.”
That’s when Borkowski made the tactical decision of the tournament, moving his star Nerilia Mondesir from left midfield to forward. All of a sudden, Haiti was back on the front foot.
“In the last five, six minutes, I sent a message to Nerilia,” Borkowski remarked. “She wants to be a big-time player, she needs to deliver for us, she needs to score a goal. And she did.”
The 16-year-old, who struck four times in Haiti's 13-0 opening victory over Grenada, netted the game-winner in the 89th minute, latching on to a ball played over the top by Roseline Eloissaint and racing into the box to shoot past goalkeeper Natalia Schaps.
“She’s our most experienced player, who played at the U-20 level and senior level,” noted Borkowski. “We count on her and, in the end, she delivered.”
After Canada’s victory over Grenada in the second game that day of a Group A doubleheader, Haiti secured advancement to its first-ever CU17W semifinal.
“For us, it means a lot to advance to the next round,” said Mondesir, who scored a remarkable 12 goals in Caribbean qualifying for the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Championship. “Also, it’s really important to show all the work the coach and the new staff has done with us has finally paid off.”
Haiti and Canada, both with maximum points from two games, will meet for the Group A title on Monday at the Grenada Athletics Stadium. It will be a rematch of the 2014 CONCACAF Girls’ Under-15 Championship final, a game in which the Canadians prevailed, 4-1 on penalty kicks, following a 1-1 draw.
The scorer for Haiti that day? You guessed it, Nerilia Mondesir.