Region III vs. DIMAS Escazu
The whistle blew on a windy night at the Nicolas Masis Stadium and both teams were ready to show the best of their talent. DIMAS Escazu wanted to redeem themselves after losing their first match 3-1 against Region IV. On the other side of the pitch, losing was not an option for Region III after being defeated 0-1 by Moravia during the first day of competition.
The green squad played tough against an Escazu team that was not able to create any threatening chances. After some hard work, a few chances appeared for Region III and after a great entry pass from Lucy Mitchell (#3), Mackenzee Vance (#8) was able to break DIMAS’s defense and score the first of the night; a wonderful combo between Mitchell and Vance from the left channel.
Motivation is definitely not a lack for Region III and this showed inside the court with the creation of good game options in the middle of the field as well as on the sides of it. They also had clear opportunities with Mitchell and long ball attempts. In addition, the girls from Region III proved that simple touches make the difference. Escazu’s tactical system utilized long-distance passing and this led to a loss of ball possession most of the game.
Region III controlled the first half and had a bulk of chances, but the second half was full of surprises and player substitutions. Region III still kept control over the midfield area and they seemed to have a green card on the left channel since Escazu did not win one single ball on that side of the pitch. Even though the green team dominated the whole match, DIMAS was able to gain some ground; still, their team seemed unorganized and with bad positioning.
One of the surprises previously mentioned was Escazu tying the match 1-1 with a well-stroken shot by Maria Castro (#15), who received a low pass from Krista Chavarría (#17) coming from the left. This did not affect Region III’s concentration and their coach asked them to attack even more because they had already had many scoring options, but they did not convert those into goals.
Another surprise of the match was a yellow card for Adriana Guerrero (#19, Escazu) and Abbigale Brighton (#12, RIII), making them the first two players of the tournament to receive a yellow card for dirty play and soccer rule defying respectively. The final surprise happened at the very last minute of the match when Tara Katz (#5) threw a through ball in order to leave Lucy Mitchell in a one-on-one situation with DIMAS’s goalkeeper. Mitchell was able to finish the play and score the 2-1 game winner in favor of Region III.
Region IV vs. Saprissa
It was a rainy night at the Ernesto Rohmoser Stadium when Region IV and Saprissa started their game, but this crazy February weather issue did not slow down any of the teams. From the very beginning, both squads gave their very best predicting a very tough two-legged game. Saprissa began with more ball possession, but Region IV showed a great and solid defense.
The rain affected the two teams since the pitch was slippery and the players could hardly control the ball since it moves faster on a wet turf surface. Early in the game, Saprissa had its first shot when Carolina Venegas (#9) tried to chip Region IV’s goaltender, but the strike passed close to the pole leaving the match with no goals as of yet.
After several attempts and winning ball possession on the midfield, Saprissa made it through to score their first of the night on the legs of Kenady Adams (#3) after Region IV’s goalkeeper cleared a strong shot from the captain Katherine Alvarado (#10). The goal motivated the purple team and they started to have more ball control in the middle of the pitch.
Even though Region IV started to run more and used Leah Feato’s (#2) good dribbling from the left side, this was not enough to stop Saprissa from scoring their second goal. One of the main characteristics of the purple squad is their ability to score under dead ball circumstances; in this case, it was a corner kick played by Alvarado, which ended up with Venegas heading the ball into the goal with no one marking her.
Region IV did not give up and for the second half they changed the pace and tempo of the match, converting it into a game of two halves since they started dominating all the lines with first touch passes and making sure they recovered ball possession in the midfield. Their defense became a deadlock and Saprissa could not do anything about it.
After several intents, there was a foul on Saprissa’s box and the referee call it a penalty kick. Emily Chiao (#4), with great confidence and excellent technical skill, shot the ball to the far left side of the goalkeeper in order to put the 2-1 on the scoreboard. The black squad then started pushing and pushing and using lay-off passes to break Saprissa’s defensive block again.
Saprissa presented some issues after the subs came to the field because they were not as organized as they were in the first half. This issue cost them the 2-2 on the legs of Nicole Sweeney (#11), who took advantage of a great pass from the left and scored in order to tie up the game.
Randal Chacon (Saprissa’s Head Coach) decided that it was better to park the bus since Region IV was constantly attacking. For the purple team, it was better to come off the field with a tie rather than losing the match. In the very last seconds of the game, and after a goalmouth scramble, Region IV claimed that the ball had passed the goal line, but the referee did not validate the action for the final 2-2.
Once the match was over, Gabriela Guillen (#16, Saprissa) said: “I think we played a very good and intense first half; the subs affected the game a little bit. After the first half, we got too comfortable and let down a bit and they came out strong. I think we need to come out and play how we did the first half for the entire game and we should dominate. Ball possession is our strength and we lost the ball too easily during the second half.”
Region I vs. Moravia
The last game of the night presented Moravia against Region I; they were lucky the rain had already stopped and the match started with no weather issues besides a cold and windy night. This game was definitely a 50-50 match from beginning to end. Moravia did not show the same skills as in their previous match and Region I practiced the give-and-go with very good results on the pitch. The midfield was totally under Region I’s control, where they were able to cut every intent from Moravia and the solid defense presented by the ODP team made it harder for Moravia to practice their usual soccer.
Cristin Granados (#15) tried with all her heart to move the team and throw long balls for her teammates, but it was really hard for them to keep control of the ball after the passes. Granados tried to hold up the ball for her team and Grace Faulkner (#7) tried to do the same for Region I, but in the end, Granados’s pressing paid off when Daniela Coto (#24) received one of the balls and did not think twice before sending a strong left footed strike, which ended on Region I’s net. This was the opening goal of the match and now Region I was down 0-1 on the scoreboard.
After the goal, Moravia kept trying and they presented a solid defense as well, but Region I was pressing a lot, especially with Claudia Benz (#6), who was a real headache for Moravia’s middle and last lines. At this point, no one knew what was going to happen next, until Coto came again from the left side of the field and extended a long, low pass to Yerli Rojas (#10), who controlled the ball and was able to score the 2-0 with a great scissor kick under the pressure of Region I’s defense.
Michaela Easter (RI GK) was impeccable at the net, repelling many shots from different angles after Moravia started getting into their usual playing rhythm. Unfortunately, Region I was not able to score this time, but their game was always dynamic and potent, which made it hard for Moravia to follow their pace. In the last minutes of the match, Granados was booked with a yellow card as well as Caitlin Fitja (#17, RI) after a foul.
Diana Saenz (#5, Moravia) talked to us about the match. She said, “this has been a very good and challenging tournament for us, they have a lot of good players who fight for the ball with great intensity. This will definitely help us improve. We do need to take advantage of the opportunities to score since we have missed a lot today.” For Region I, Nina Carlomusto (#5) said, “it was a hard battle, but we were not able to come ahead and finish our chances. We will need to improve for the next match.”