Haiti (pictured) has won three of its last five matches in the CONCACAF Women's Championship. (Photo: Mexsport)
KANSAS CITY, Kansas – They were nervous and down a player at halftime.
Things had not exactly gone Haiti’s way in the opening 45 minutes of its first match in the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship (CWC) on Wednesday.
But what Haiti did show after the break was poise and that, coupled with a little bit of luck, helped lift it to a 1-0 win over Guatemala at Sporting Park.
“They were resilient and then we had an opportunity and scored a goal,” summarized Haiti head coach Shek Borkowski.
Making the most of that opportunity was Lindsay Zullo, who completed a madcap sequence that could have seen three players claim credit in the 69th minute.
Kensie Bobo delivered a ball into the middle of the box that was headed at goalkeeper Yoselin Franco. The 19-year-old made an initial reaction stop, but while tumbling backwards palmed the ball into the path of Yvrose Gervil. Before crossing the line, it deflected off Zullo’s midsection and into the net.
“For us, it’s huge,” Borkowski said of the win, which improved Haiti to 2-0-0 against Guatemala in CWC play. “Getting three points and getting a good start is good for the players’ morale and good for Haiti itself because it gives people something exciting, something to cheer on.”
It should also help calm some of the nerves Haiti showed. Borkowski said his team played tentative early and couldn’t maintain possession.
To further complicate things, goalkeeper Cynthia Chery was shown a straight red card in the 17th minute after clutching Ana Lucia Martinez in the penalty area.
Borkowski brought on Geralda Saintilus as a replacement and removed Wisline Dolce from the match, reducing the team to 10 players.
The Haitians were given new life, when Saintilus dived to her left to make the save on Marilyn Rivera’s penalty kick.
Guatemala would also hit the crossbar three times en route to its 10th straight CWC loss.
Haiti, meanwhile, made the most of its chance and picked up three huge points going into its second Group A match on Friday against regional-rival Trinidad & Tobago, which suffered a 1-0 loss to the United States.
It’s a vital start for Haiti, winner in three of its last five CWC matches. Borkowski is hoping all the anxieties are left behind in Kansas because a stiffer test is on the horizon.
“This event has drawn a lot of attention in Haiti,” the 51-year-old finished. “Hopefully, most of my players will get beyond the stress and nervousness they felt in the game early on especially and maybe we’ll get a better performance against Trinidad.
“We’ll have to get a better performance against Trinidad.”