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Women Warriors one win away from World Cup.
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Trinidad and Tobago women senior team are just one win away from a FIFA World Cup after pulling off a surprising 0-0 draw against Ecuador at Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa in Quito.

Despite playing at the elevation of 2,782m, T&T kept their composure and frustrated the Ecuadorians throughout the match as the South Americans were pilling on repeated attacks on T&T goal especially in the second half.

They came very close on a few occasions with some good opportunities from long distance and dead ball situations. However, T&T, led in defence by the composed Arin King dealt with almost everything coming their way.

Ligia Moreira had the great opportunity to open the scoring for Ecuador in the 80th minute, but could not finish inside the box as goalkeeper Kimika Forbes were up to the task. Forbes, were at her best and came up big on many occasions that kept T&T in the game.

The Soca Princesses refused to lay-down and had a few chances of their own. They were unfortunate not have stolen the match away from under the noses of Ecuador, in-fact, T&T had found the net in the dying minutes of the second half after a mix up in the box, but German referee Bibiana Steinhaus blew for a foul and as a result the goal were disallowed.

T&T will now head into the second game knowing that they have the upper hand while Ecuador will feel the opposite as they have failed to win on their home ground and now face an up-hill battle. Both teams are aspiring to qualify for a first ever World Cup appearance.

T&T will now regroup and gear up for the return game when they play host to the South Americans in 3 weeks time at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, on December 2.

Teams

Ecuador: - 1.Shirley Berrus, 19.Kerly Real, 3.Lorena Aguilar (Yellow 27), 16.Ligia Moreira, 6.Angie Ponce (Yellow 34), 18.Adriana Barre (Yellow 35) (14.Monica Quinteros 46th), 20.Andrea Pesantes, 13.Madeline Riera (8.Erika Vasquez 56th), 7.Ingrid Rodriguez, 10.Ambar Torres (11.Elizabeth Caicedo 81st), 9.Gianina Lattanzio.

Unused substitutes: 4.Merly Zambrano, 5.Mayre Olivera, 12.Irene Tobar, 17.Tamara Angulo.

Coach: - Vanessa Arauz.

Trinidad & Tobago: - 1.Kimika Forbes, 4.Rhea Belgrave (Yellow 47), 5.Arin King, 8.Patrice Superville, 9.Maylee Attin Johnson (capt) (Yellow 35), 14.Karyn Forbes, 11.Janine Francois (7.Dernelle Mascall 75th), 20.Lauren Hutchinson (2.Ayanna Russell 65th), 12.Ahkeela Mollon, 3.Mariah Shade (10.Tasha St Louis 66th), 19.Kennya Cordner.

Unused substitutes: 17.Sandra Baron (GK), 6.Khadidra Debessette, 13.Anique Walker, 16.Jasmine Sampson, 18.Khadisha Debessette.

Coach: - Randy Waldrum.

Referee: - Bibiana Steinhaus (Germany).

Attendance: - 17,500.

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T&T and Ecuador Play to a Draw in World Cup Qualifying
By Hal Kaiser (Orange in the Oven)


It was a tale of two halves in Quito, as Trinidad and Tobago faced Ecuador in the first leg of a playoff for one of the final two spots in the Women’s World Cup in Canada next summer. The end result of both halves was identical, however, as the teams played to a 0-0 draw in front of over 15,000 in a match played at an altitude of 9,127 feet.

The opening ten minutes were frenetic as both teams raced up and down the pitch in a pace that likely favored the home side given the altitude. Thereafter, the Soca Princesses began to take control of the match with Ecuador dropping deep to defend and struggling to get numbers forward.

The pace and athleticism of the Trinidadian players proved difficult for Ecuador to cope with in the 1st half, and La Tri accrued three yellow cards early on as they dove to where the ball once was but found only the legs of the opposing players.

Still, the Ecuadorian defense proved difficult to break down and despite all of Trinidad & Tobago’s possession, they were unable to get a good look at goal. Ahkeela Mollon looked dangerous on the right side of the pitch, however the final ball was always lacking. Her best chance to create came in the 31st minute when she made a clever move to beat a defender along the right touchline only to hit her cross straight at the keeper.

In the final five minutes of the half, Ecuador began to show some signs of life as the altitude, perhaps, started to take its toll on the Trinidadian players. La Tri could not string together enough passes to threaten goal, however. The closest they came was in the 40th minute when a cross into the box found Ingrid Rodriguez, who chested it up nicely but went down under the slightest of contact. The referee was not impressed, and no foul was called.

As the sides went into the locker room, it was 0-0 with Ecuador having reason to feel good after surviving Trinidad and Tobago’s best efforts to get forward to score.

After the half, Trinidad and Tobago continued to look tired, getting increasingly sloppy in possession as Ecuador began to push numbers forward. Four minutes into the half, Andrea Pesantes had La Tri’s first real chance on goal, picking up a Trinidad and Tobago clearance near the top of the box and blasting a shot wide.

In the 53rd minute, T&T keeper Kimika Forbes was called upon to punch a dangerous set piece out of the box. Three minutes later, Ecuador brought on the dangerous Erika Vásquez who made her presence felt immediately. In the 60th minute, she was nearly played through on goal but the defense was alert to the danger and cleared. Two minutes later, she was played through again but Forbes was quick off her line and slid out to deflect the ball away.

In the 73rd minute, Pesantes stole the ball near the top of the Trinidad and Tobago box and let loose another long range volley which went just over the crossbar. As Ecuador continued to press forward, Trinidad and Tobago looked increasingly tired leading Randy Waldrum to send Tasha St Louis and Dernelle Mascall into the game.

In the 80th minute, Ecuador sent a dangerous ball into the box but the defense cleared. A minute later, a free kick for Ecuador created a frenzy in front of goal, but the Soca Princesses were again finally able to clear.

The 82nd minute saw a rare chance for Trinidad and Tobago, but the shot from the top of the box went harmlessly to the keeper.

Over the final five minutes of the game plus stoppage time, the pace picked up and chances came fast and furious at both ends of the pitch. In the 87th minute, Kennya Cordner found space at the far post but could not get up high enough to make good contact on a cross from the right touchline.

Four minutes later, the ball was in the back of the net as Cordner challenged the Ecuadorian keeper on a ball into the box, however she was judged to have fouled the keeper. In the 93rd, Quintero had a quality chance for Ecuador but headed wide of the net.

As the whistle blew following nearly six minutes of stoppage time, the Soca Princesses took a deep breath of relief having come away with a scoreless draw in difficult conditions. The teams will meet again on December 2nd in Port of Spain for the second leg of the playoff. A win on home turf and the Soca Princesses are through to the World Cup.

Brave Women Warriors hold Ecuador goalless.
T&T Guardian Reports.


A determined, physical and gritty performance from T&T’s senior women’s team was rewarded by a goalless draw against Ecuador yesterday, when the two teams battled in the first leg of a two-match qualifying playoff for next year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup.

Playing at the Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa, Quito, one of the most intimidating venues for traveling teams because of its altitude, captain Maylee Attin-Johnson’s T&T team epitomised their “Women Soca Warriors” nickname as she and her teammates once again beat the odds stacked against them.

The result, likely to give T&T the edge for the December 2 second leg in Port-of-Spain, left head coach Randy Waldrum much more satisfied than his counterpart, Vanessa Arauz.

It was a match lacking genuine goal-scoring chances for either team but T&T goalkeeper Kimika Forbes nevertheless turned up in another outstanding display. Despite being called into only one reflex save early on, Forbes’ calculated movement off her line and top-notch handling of shots and aerial crosses, may have been a real factor in keeping a most valuable clean sheet for T&T.

She also had the support of a strong back-line marshalled by Arin King, who was confident and composed. However, T&T visibly struggled in the final third. Attempts to play through the middle were often cut off by the Ecuadorian defence, leaving T&T’s key forward Kennya Cordner and Mariah Shade often isolated. Winger Ahkeela Mollon made a number of bursts off the flank and also recorded T&T’s only shot on target late in the match, while Ecuador made desperate attempts on the other end to please the home support with a goal.

Ecuador had a couple of attempts and were naturally more daring going forward but T&T was by no means second best, particularly in the first half, which the away team dominated. T&T slowed the pace in the second period and allowed Ecuador to press but continued a strong defensive display.

Only with the last quarter of the match remaining, some T&T players showed signs of fatigue given the testing conditions. Apart from Attin-Johnson nearly receiving a second yellow card in the 75th minute, the Warriors remained composed to celebrate the draw. Ecuador, desperate to find something to leave home with, had a penalty appeal waved away by the German official with five minutes remaining.

On the other end, within the five minutes of time added on, Cordner almost came up massive when she put the ball into the net with a header but this time the referee blew in Ecuador’s favour, as Cordner was adjudged to have impeded the goalkeeper, although her eyes were glued to the ball.

It was a fair result for both teams in the end but a less-than-positive one for Ecuador, based on its reported expectations prior to kick-off. The six-day preparation camp in Mexico, which ended on Wednesday, seemed to have the ideal effect on Waldrum’s players, who almost seemed more comfortable in sprints than the opposition, before the final third of the match. Speaking after the match, Waldrum offered praises to his players and said he could ask little more of them.

“They were all just warriors out there today,” he said. “We came into this game wanting a positive result, to stay in the game as long as we could and we did everything for that to happen today. I’m extremely pleased with the way we kept it together out there.  “There were times in the game where they (Ecuador) tried to break us down but we kept it strong and considering the conditions of this match, I have to really applaud the players for this great effort today.”

He added, however, that the players should not get ahead of themselves but ought to remain focused on the task at hand. “We’ve got to now ensure that the focus remains and I’m sure it will because these girls are keeping their eyes firmly on the prize which is qualification for Canada. But, we’ll also ensure that we do things right because playing at home now is different to what we‘ve had in the recent past.

The Caribbean Championship was great but we’re now looking at a World Cup Final qualifying game here where everything is on the line.” He urged the T&T public to turn out in support in the team. “It’s a great opportunity now for the folks back in Trinidad to really show their love and support for this team,” he said. The team is expected to return home tomorrow morning.

‘Women Warriors’ set-up decider with gritty draw
By STEPHON NICHOLAS (NEWSDAY).

Trinidad and Tobago put themselves in position to qualify for the 2015 Women’s World Cup after a gutsy 0-0 draw in high altitude yesterday against Ecuador in the first leg of their play-off at the Atahualpa Stadium in Quito, Ecuador.

The “Women Soca Warriors” now have 90 minutes at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on December 2 to beat the South Americans and book their ticket for a first ever appearance at the global showpiece in Canada.

Battle hardened at the recently concluded CONCACAF Women’s Championship where they placed fourth, the TT women gave a sterling account of themselves despite playing over 9000 feet above sea level.

Well organised in defence and looking to hit on the counter, the TT team executed their game plan well in limiting their opponents despite suffering a dip in performance in the second half when fatigue began to set in.

The taller TT team looked a threat throughout the game on set pieces and will definitely be looking to exploit that advantage in the return leg.

Former national player Brent Sancho, a member of the 2006 Soca Warriors team that qualified for the World Cup in Germany, commended the team for their gritty showing yesterday but warned that the job is not yet complete.

“Obviously they should be proud of their performance but they have to be wary that the job is only halfway done. I know some of the girls personally so I know complacency won’t step in,” he said.

Sancho noted though that the tie is still undecided with no team gaining a decisive edge as yet.

“I am always cautious with a zero zero tie. It’s still a lot of football to be played. No team scored so there isn’t an away goal advantage (for us). There is still a sizeable chunk of work left to be done but if you’d ask coach Randy Waldrum before if he’d taken a zero zero tie I’m sure he would have. They’re halfway there. It’s not a great result but it’s not a bad result,” he added.

The hosts, backed by a vociferous 17,000 crowd yesterday, started strongly, looking to find gaps in the TT backline with their short passing game.

The TT defence, marshalled by central defender Arin King, stood firm though to repel the first wave of pressure.

King, outsanding throughout the 90, showed her fancy footwork in the 27th minute, dribbling past four Ecuador players in a strong run that took her into Ecuador territory before passing off the ball.

Right winger Ahkeela Mollon was also looking good, beating players at will down the flank but was unable to deliver that final killer cross.

A strong run down the right channel by Mollon in the 31st looked promising for the visitors but the dreadlocked player’s cross was too close to Ecuador goalkeeper Shirley Berruz who collected the ball with ease. A minute later, Kennya Cordner received a through ball down the left but attempted to take on three defenders when a pass to Mollon on top the box would have been the better option.

Ecuador, persisting with their short passing game, crafted their best chance from a long ball to Lorena Aguilar but King stuck to her task to block the forward’s shot. Mollon was having her way with the Ecuadoreans who found it easier to foul her than stop her legally.

A free-kick won by Mollon in the 35th gave TT the chance to strike from the deal ball and captain Maylee Attin-Johnson saw her shot from just outside the area blocked after the free-kick was cleared straight to her.

Ecuador started the second half brightly, and midfielder Andrea Tenorio tried her luck from distance with a couple shots that had goalkeeper Kimika Forbes concerned.

Ecuador substitute Monica Quinteros was causing the TT defnce some headache with her pace and strength and looked goalbound when sent clear but Forbes raced off her line to make a crucial clearance in the 62nd.

With the altitude beginning to take its toll on the TT players, Ecuador assumed ascanedancy as the Caribbean women struggled to get out their half.

Coach Randy Waldrum quicky sought to refresh his team with subsitutions, taking off the tiring left-back Lauryn Hutchinson (64th), Mariah Shade (66th) and Jenine Francois (76th) in favour of Ayanna Russell, Tasha St Louis and Dernelle Mascall.

Despite weary, TT were looking dangerous on the counter with the hosts pushing for the go-ahead goal and leaving space in the back. In the 85th, a combination that worked so well at the CONCACAF Championship almost came to the rescue again as Mollon made progress down her flank and looked to pick out Cordner at the last post but the TT forward could not jump high enough to connect on a header.

TT had the ball in the back of the net in injury time when a cross from Mollon was attacked by Cordner who fouled the Ecuador goalie attempting to head the ball.

There were to be no scares as TT picked up a precious draw to head back home with just a win needed.