Raquel Rodriguez Cedeño (pictured) celebrates after scoring one of her two goals in Costa Rica's 6-1 win over Martinique in the CONCACAF Women's Championship on October 21, 2014, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mexsport)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Costa Rica started and ended strongly to post a 6-1 win over Martinique in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship on Tuesday at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium.
Carolina Venegas and second-half substitute Raquel Rodriguez Cedeño scored two goals each in victory, while Prisca Carin netted for Martinique.
The Ticas finished first in Group B with a perfect 3-0-0 record and will face Trinidad & Tobago in the semifinals on Friday at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. The winner will qualify for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.
Mexico and Jamaica will square off later in the evening for the last final-four berth.
On a rainy evening, Costa Rica head coach Garabet Avedissian made multiple line-up changes, giving a start to 15-year-old Gloriana Villalobos. Earlier this year, the impressive midfielder played in the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship, plus the FIFA U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cups.
Despite the modifications, the Central Americans opened quickly and were up 3-0 at the break.
Fabiola Sanchez gave them a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute, sharply heading Cristin Granados’ left-sided corner kick downwards and beyond goalkeeper Benedicte Hubbel.
In the 25th minute, Venegas struck for her first of the night and second of the tournament. The 23-year-old forward collected the ball near the top of the box, smoothly weaved her way towards the net and easily slotted home.
Seven minutes later, the outstanding Katherine Alvarado slipped a pass to Wendy Acosta, who saw nothing but green grass between her and the goal. The defender pounded a shot off of Hubbel’s hand and into the net to make it 3-0.
With three points in sight, Costa Rica came out for the second half comfortably, but winless Martinique still wanted to make a mark on the competition.
That impression was stamped thanks to Carin. A free kick from the midfield line was played just inside the 18-yard box, where Carin – Martinique’s top scorer in Caribbean qualifying with four goals – flicked a header towards the net. The ball skipped on the slick surface, beyond goalkeeper Yirliana Arroyo and into the back of the net.
With the Costa Ricans momentarily on their heels, Prisca nearly made it a one-goal game, but her rolling effort from 25-yards out glanced off the left post.
Sensing a shift in momentum, Avedissian brought on Rodriguez Cedeño and that decision changed the game.
The Penn State-star struck in the 82nd and 83rd minutes off passes from Alvarado. Her first was a header, while the second came after rounding Hubbel and striking from eight-yards out.
With the Ticas up 5-1, Venegas performed a moment of pure magic. Alvarado delivered a free kick from the right that took a bounce in the box untouched. Without hesitation, Venegas left her feet and deposited a bicycle kick into the goal.
Costa Rica won three straight CWC games for the first time, while Martinique completed its participation with three losses in as many outings.
To view Highlights of this game, click here.