WASHINGTON, D.C. — When the final whistle blew in the U.S. women’s national team’s 6-0 win over Haiti on Monday, the happiest team at RFK Stadium likely wasn’t on the field. The win by the U.S. secured once and for all Trinidad and Tobago’s second-place finish in Group A. Now the team that literally didn’t know where its next meal was coming from two weeks ago is one win away from securing a spot in next year’s World Cup. The Soca Princesses will play Costa Rica this Friday in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship semifinals.
About two hours before the United States’ win, Trinidad and Tobago head coach Randy Waldrum said he is happy with his team’s performance through the first stage of the tournament following his team’s 2-1 win over Guatemala.
Waldrum said that he was “really, really excited for the players,” adding that he was especially proud of goalkeeper Tanesha Palmer, who had to step in for the suspended Kimika Forbes.
“I think the girls wanted to win this one for themselves, win it for Kimika and Tanesha. I thought handled things nicely,” Waldrum said.
While the financial woes the team has faced have been widely documented, the team has also had to deal with missing key players or having their availability limited throughout its tournament run. Aside from Forbes’ suspension, Waldrum named four players – Karyn Forbes, Ayana Russell, Tasha St. Louis and Janine Francois, that were dealing with injuries. Waldrum is happy with the way his players dealt with the adversity and he believes having the next couple of days off will help get those players ready for the next stage.
“We’ve really been a patchwork team throughout this first group stage. I’m really pleased with the changes that we’ve made and the players that have stepped up,” Waldrum said.
Kennya Cordner, who was scored the first goal for Trinidad and Tobago Monday night and earned the eventual game-winning penalty kick, gave insight on the team’s mindset.
“We put a block between that and said, ‘this is us over here,'” Cordner said of the team’s off-field struggles. “We can’t study that part of life is there and we have to focus on us and we have to show the world even if we have this problem, here, there and everywhere, we are going to qualify. The struggles is just a stepping stone in life. We have to overcome it. So with all the injuries and financial disappointment, whatever, we, the girls on the national team are just like, we got to stick together and play for each other. Go out there and fight for this with or without any financial support.”
Although the Soca Princesses are excited to be moving on in the tournament, the team has a lot more they want to accomplish. When asked what her first thought would be when the U.S. won its game and thereby ensuring Trinidad and Tobago’s second-place finish in the group, Cordner spoke very simply.
“Beat Costa Rica, qualify for the World Cup. That’s our main goal.”
No Caribbean nation has ever qualified for a Women’s World Cup. If Trinidad and Tobago are unable to beat Costa Rica on Friday, they can still clinch a World Cup spot in the 3rd-place game on Sunday. If the team secures a spot in the World Cup, Trinidad and Tobago’s triumph over adversity will no doubt be the most memorable story of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship.
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