Jamaica suffer mixed fortunes
Shayne Fairman, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica's men's team finished Saturday's penultimate night of competition neck and neck in the standings with top-ranked Trinidad and Tobago - which led the points table by virtue of a better goal difference - in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) World League round-one qualifying series at the Mona Hockey turf in St Andrew.
The Jamaicans put in a fair performance to beat the Dominica Republic 2-1 on penalties, after the game ended 2-2 in regulation time.
Nicholas Beach (31st) and André Gardner (50th) scored in regulation time for Jamaica, while Jeffrey Moncion (8th) and José Lopez (61st) netted for the Dominican Republic.
Unlike their male counterparts, Jamaica's women's team were not as fortunate, and despite finishing 1-1 in regulation time, went down 2-1 in the penalty shoot-out.
Chakira Airey (15th) gave Jamaica the lead, but Puerto Rico equalised at the 53rd minute to force the game into a penalty decider.
"We tried hard to play good hockey, despite our team not having the international experience and technical skill as our opponents," said women's coach Dr Michelle Holt.
"My girls put up a good fight. The experience in this competition has been good for them, and they can only improve and grow from here," she added.
Men's coach Nicholas Brown said lack of composure cost his team full points.
"We suffered lapses in concentration, which cost us to miss four clear scoring chances. The guys didn't maintain their composure due to nervousness and inexperience," Brown outlined.
That result left Jamaica second on five points due to an outright win over Barbados and two points earned from their penalty shootout victory over the Dominica Republic. The Jamaicans have scored four goals, while conceding three in two games.
On the other hand, Trinidad and Tobago have one outright win over Barbados and earned two points from their penalty shootout win against the Dominica Republic. Trinidad have scored five goals and conceded three in their two games.
Coach Nicholas Brown believes his team has done well despite circumstances faced.
"We came into this tournament without experience and ranking. My guys were an unrecognised bunch, but we overcame established teams like Barbados and Dominica," he said.
"We plan to continue taking it one game at a time and pull off upsets. Even when we face top-ranked Trinidad, we want to win," the coach outlined.
Jamaica faced a must-win situation in a late game last night against the Trinidadians, as only a win would lift them to the next round of the FIH competition.
Ahead of the clash, Brown said: "Trinidad is our final and most important hurdle to overcome. We are upbeat ahead of this clash against the favourites. I hope my players execute according to plan."
He added that despite fitness concerns, the team remained positive.
"We have four players injured from the Dominica encounter and others due to the chikungunya virus. But my guys will train and are upbeat nonetheless. We are ready to give our best again," he told The Gleaner.