Men's team among region's best - Brown
Shayne Fairman, Gleaner Writer
Coach Nicholas Brown is confident that the island's men's hockey team can compete strongly against their regional counterparts, by virtue of their second-place finish in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Round One World Hockey League qualifying series, which ended at the Mona Hockey Field last Sunday.
"Excellent performance from my team," Brown said. "They played well and did the country proud.
"Their performance in this tournament shows that they are on par with Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados," Brown told The Gleaner.
The Trinidadians are the region's top-ranked team in hockey, while Barbados are fourth.
Jamaica's men secured two wins from their three games. They beat the Dominican Republic 2-1 on penalties and Barbados 2-1 in regulation time.
However, they lost 3-0 to Trinidad and Tobago in their final match on Sunday night.
The Jamaicans defended stoutly in the first half, but Akim Touissant broke the deadlock when he scored from a field goal on minute 45. Tariq Marcano sent Trinidad two goals ahead, when he scored another field goal, at the 60th minute 60. Touissant scored his second of the game and Trinidad's third goal seven minutes later (67th).
By virtue of the loss, Jamaica missed out on a place in Round Two of the FIH qualifying series.
Amid the disappointment, the coach believes all is not lost and remains confident they can improve on their shortcomings.
"We have learnt a lot from this tournament. The guys were inexperienced and nervous, but they played like champions and created two upsets. We will be back in training to get ready for the CAC tournament," Brown outlined, of the Central American and Caribbean Games.
By beating higher-ranked teams, Brown believes Jamaica proved they are a force to be reckoned with regionally, but the team needs exposure.
"We just need to give them more experience by way of international exposure and improve their technical skills," Brown concluded.
Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago claimed top honours in the men's and women's categories, along with a chance of qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Their men finished with eight points, courtesy of a penalty shoot-out victory and two outright wins, the second of which came against Jamaica on Sunday night.
Toussaint scored four of T&T's eight goals and was awarded the tournament's top scorer.
Jamaica finished the tournament in second place on five points due to one outright win, one penalty-shootout victory and a loss. Their goal keeper, Geovani Green, was awarded best keeper of the tournament.
The Dominican Republic and Barbados had failed to register a win and finished third and fourth, respectively.
In women's competition, Trinidad rallied to four wins from all their matches. They netted 12 goals overall, with Agustina Birocho claiming the top scorer's award with six. The Dominican Republic's women also qualified for Round Two of the World Hockey League by virtue of their second-place finish with eight points. Barbados were third with six, Puerto Rico second on two points, while Jamaica's women finished winless with a single point.