COUVA.- Host nation Trinidad and Tobago and Saint Kitts and Nevis both made winning starts to Group C action in CONCACAF Caribbean Women's World Cup qualifying at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, Trinidad on Saturday.
St Kitts got things going with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Dominica in the first game of the doubleheader while T&T cruised to a 10-0 shut out of US Virgin Islands to stay top of the group after the opening set of matches.
St Kitts took an 8th-minute lead through Brittney Lawrence but Dominica kept themselves in the match with a brave showing. They got a 10th-minute equalizer from Romelcia Phillip. The eventual winning goal came quickly after as Lawrence received a pass on the left of the penalty box and eluded onrushing goalkeeper Christina Sobers before slotting into an empty goal.
Both teams kept a good shape and continued to search for further goals but to no avail in the second half.
St Kitts head coach Earl Jones later spoke about the win.
"Our girls stuck to the game plan and it was an excellent result for us," Jones told CONCACAF.com.
"It's always positive to start on a winning note because it brings more energy to the team going forward. We had a similar result against Dominica in the Caribbean Challenge Series but I thought Dominica was better tonight. But we put in a lot of work and the girls deserved the win."
Dominica head coach Rajesh Latchoo meantime felt his team conceded two soft goals before settling into a rhythm.
"I think the girls are getting better. We created some chances but the St Kitts team has some better technical and more agile players than us and I thought we were able to hold them off for most of the game. The game was a good learning experience for us. We conceded two easy goals and then we adapted to the match itself. We'll try to come better in the remaining matches," Latchoo said.
In the second match of the evening, US Virgin Islands held their own 35 minutes after conceding in the 15th when Patrice Superville opened the scoring for T&T. The floodgates opened in the 36th as T&T went on to score five unanswered goals in the space of six minutes before halftime. Shade struck in the 36th minute and her item was quickly followed by goals from Karyn Forbes in the 37th, a right-footed stunner from long range on the left which few into the top right corner, Tasha St Louis in the 39th, Shade again in the 40th and Jenelle Cunningham in the 42nd.
USVI's misery continued after the break as they conceded four more goals. Keddie Johnson put T&T 7-0 ahead in the 61st while Shade completed the rout with items in the 83rd and 90th minutes.
T&T head coach Jamaal Shabazz described the victory as the ideal start for his team.
"Good start for us. I think USVI for the first 20 minutes they looked very spritely and very much in it. I felt satisfied our girls showed patience and eventually we opened the doors.
"We were able to get some goals in. We tried playing differently because we think that most of the teams will sit back and we tried to have a more forward thinking. I think the desire to stay and try to be consistent and put on the field what we practiced was pleasing for me," Shabazz said.
"Girls are competing for places and players are getting fitter and we are seeing that we can move the players around into different positions and still maintain some quality," he added.
USVI head coach Izler Browne said that her team lacked proper fitness and were punished by a superior opponent.
"Up to the first 35 minutes we were doing well. We conceded one goal in the 11th and then by the 34th minute we got the second goal and that opened the floodgates. For us as a staff, we were able to zero in on what we need to work on in terms of going forward, especially playing a team like Trinidad and Tobago.
I think we lacked fitness and this showed when we conceded like four goals in the space of five minutes. This showed what is required to play at the top level. We will take all of this into considering going forward," Browne said.
"You have to be respectful of who you are playing against. If we played an open game, we could have gotten twenty," she added, explaining that her team never really had the chance to go forward with any conviction against their stronger opponents.
Group C action continues on Monday with US Virgin Islands taking on Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago facing Dominica. The group winner will advance to the Finals of the CONCACAF Caribbean qualifiers in July.