Bitter-sweet hockey

BAJAN MEN TASTE VICTORY BUT MORE PAIN FOR THE WOMEN

Today, Barbados’ Lady Tridents were hoping to feed off the momentum of their male counterparts who on Thursday night defeated Mexico. But when they took to the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall court in the Indoor Pan Am Hockey Championship in Georgetown, Guyana, they were trounced by Trinidad and Tobago 11-4.

The Barbados ladies started very positively indeed, showing new skills undoubtedly learned over the last four days of competition. For the first time in the competition, the Barbados ladies opened the scoring, when young Ayanna Wilson intercepted a searching pass from the Trinidad left back, eliminated the Trinidad defence and slipped the ball through the legs of the Trinidad custodian Petal Derry, giving Barbados the lead in the second minute.

Barbados’ Che Warner is challenged by Mexico’s Alan Baas (left) and Luis Solorzano (right) during their match-up.

This lead wouldn’t last long, however, as a right-side drive from Trinidad earned them a penalty corner in the fourth minute, which Kristin Thompson would whip in from the right side of the “D” levelling the scores. Five minutes later, Trinidad’s Krizia Layne would extend their lead, when she received a pass in the Barbados “D” and scored an excellent reverse shot, beating Barbados goalkeeper Sheena Nicholls through the legs. Over the next five minutes Trinidad’s Savannah de Freitas, Brittney Hingh and Zene Henry followed in Layne’s lane and netted similar goals in the 11th, 12th and 14th, making the score at this stage 5 – 1 to Trinidad.

The play looked to even out again, with Barbados’ Nicholls making some timely saves and the Lady Hockey Tridents creating some chances of their own. Trinidad, however, stepped it up a notch and earned another penalty corner in the 18th, which Layne would zing over the line for another goal, her second of the match. In the dying minutes of the first half, Trinidad would have one final chance from another penalty corner, which this time Arielle Williams stepped up to convert, making the half-time score 7 – 1 in Trinidad’s favour.

At the start of the second half, Barbados came out with a high tempo, employing a half-court press against Trinidad. Trinidad would not be held back though and Brittney Hingh found the gap and was able to net her second goal in the 23rd minute. Barbados would immediately respond, however, when a forced error from the Trinidad goalkeeper would see Barbados earn a penalty corner in the 24th minute. After the first shot from Tammy Small was saved, Cher King would make no mistake with the rebound and drag it into the net for Barbados’ second goal.

Play continued with both teams searching for more goals and utilising open passing lanes for attacks. This saw Barbados earning another penalty corner in the 28th minute, which Tammy Small would drag past new Trinidad custodian Kayla-Marie Escayg, scoring her first of the match. Shortly after the touch, the energetic Wilson intercepted a line ball and drove it into the Trinidad “D”, drawing Escayg and slipping it right to a waiting Katrina Downes who comfortably slotted it into an open goal; Trinidad & Tobago 8, Barbados 4 in the 28th. Trinidad urgently called in a timeout here, as Barbados seemingly held the tempo.

After the restart, Trinidad came out with a renewed sense of purpose and would press hard to earn penalty corners in the 30th and 34th, that Williams and De Freitas converted for Trinidad.

Seeing the game slip further away, Barbados left attacking lanes open which Trinidad’s Blair Wynne would capitalize on in the 37th.

Last night Barbados’ men finally got on the winners’ board with a telling 4-2 win over Mexico.

From the touch, the tempo of the game was high as both teams raced to secure position in this last round-robin game for bragging rights. Both Mexico and Barbados were yet to register a win or points.

Mexico quickly introduced a very high press and employed more speed to the ball, which eventually saw Cristhopher Vigueras exploiting a defensive lapse in the Hockey Tridents formation that allowed a shot which beat Barbados custodian Keenan Knight, giving Mexico the lead in the ninth minute.

Play continued somewhat evenly, with Mexico looking the more dominant team in terms of possession, speed to the ball and forcing the errors from the Barbados players. Another such error allowed Mexico captain Alan Baas to capitalize on a fast break and get his shot through Knight in the 15th, giving Mexico a 2 – 0 lead.

Undeterred, Mexico still remained the more lively team, and continued to run down the ball and apply pressure to the Barbados defence. In a momentary lapse, this time by the Mexico defence, Barbados’ skilful ball carrier Che Warner would weave his way into the Mexico “D” and strategically place his shot past Mexico’s goalkeeper Roberto Orozco, pulling one back for Barbados in the 19th and forcing a timeout call from Mexico. The half-time score would see Mexico with a 2 – 1 lead over Barbados.

Barbados came out with a mission in the second half, as they took over the tempo their opponents had in the first half and stepped up to apply consistent pressure to the Mexico defence. Their consistency would yield results in the 25th minute, when an attacking drive earned a penalty corner for the Hockey Tridents, which would eventually be converted by Warner, levelling the score and giving Warner his second goal.

Barbados clearly had the lion’s share of possession in the second half, as it seemed Mexico’s players were visibly slowing. Barbados player-coach and veteran Dave Cox would take advantage of this, finishing a brilliant play with a goal of his own, beating Orozco in the 34th and giving Barbados the 3 – 2 lead, with six minutes remaining.

A jolted Mexico responded with a renewed game tempo and play was much more even in the final minutes, with both teams testing each other’s defences and forcing great saves at both ends. It was end-to-end action.

Barbados would come out on top as they wisely maintained ball possession in the last minute and held their final drive until the dying seconds, drawing a penalty corner in the expiring time. Experienced Barbados corner taker Neil Franklin, called up a scoring drag from his repertoire and easily beat Orozco on the buzzer, giving the Hockey Tridents their first win of the tournament and a well-deserved three points.

Barbados will face Mexico again tomorrow, in the 5th place match at 1:20 p.m.

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