Young Girlz hold Canada
Natoya Atkinson scores for Jamaica in 1-1 draw
Despite relentless pressure, Jamaica ensured that they held Canada at bay in their final group game of the Concacaf Under-17 Women’s Championship in the Dominican Republic last night.
The two teams played to a 1-1 draw at the Panamericano Stadium in Santo Domingo, with the result ensuring that Jamaica finished second place in the group with seven points, while Canada, although they finished with the same amount of points, topped Group F with a better goal difference. The young Reggae Girlz took a shock lead in the 38th minute through Natoya Atkinson but Renee Watson got the equaliser in the 50th minute for Canada to split the points and ensured that both teams would finish the group stage unbeaten.
Both teams had already secured passage to the round of 16 as Canada first defeated Dominican Republic 10-0 before beating Bermuda 5-0 in their second group game, while Jamaica whipped Bermuda 7-0 before coming from behind to beat host nation the Dominican Republic 3-1 on Tuesday.
From the opening whistle, it was the Canadians who took the initiative and put the Jamaicans under early pressure which saw goalkeeper Lyla Brooks being the busier of the two goalkeepers. Canada would have a golden opportunity in the seventh minute to take the lead as, from a corner kick, Jeneva Gray unleashed a shot from inside the penalty area that cannoned off the crossbar but did not cross the line. Midfielder Rosa Maalouf was the main attacker in the Jamaican final third, and forced the defence to make a number of hurried clearances.Jamaica were not without chances of their own as Shaneil Buckley managed to get a shot on target in the 20th minute but her effort was comfortably saved by Zoe Markesini. Despite Canada having the run of play, it was the Jamaicans that struck first with seven minutes left in the first half. Andrene Smith’s cross on the left-hand side found Atkinson in the six-yard box, and she finished from close range with their second shot on target.
Canada brought on Watson for Nyah Rose at half-time, and the second half mirrored the first with the Canadians putting on the early pressure. However, unlike the first half, they would be rewarded early, as Watson needed just five minutes to make an impact. After receiving a pass from Ella Ottey on the left, she dribbled forward before firing past Lyla Brooks for the equaliser. Canada had their chances to take the lead but the Jamaican defence held firm, and at times managed to pose an attacking threat of their own.
Jamaica had to survive a late push 10 minutes from the end, as Brooks stopped shots from Maalouf and second-half substitute Anna Hauer to preserve the point. In the other Group F game, Dominican Republic defeated Bermuda 5-0 to advance to the round of 16 along with Jamaica and Canada.
Jamaica will face Cuba in the round of 16 on Sunday.