Costa Rica tops Mexico in CONCACAF Women’s Championship

Sporting Park generally has a positive effect on those who experience it for the first time, and Costa Rica women’s national team coach manager Garabet Averdissian was no exception.

When asked about the atmosphere, his response was simple and to the point.

“Beautiful,” Averdissian said through an interpreter. “Very different from what we have.”

That perception was no doubt enhanced Thursday by Costa Rica’s 1-0 victory over Mexico in the opening round of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship.

Costa Rica came out the aggressor, and was rewarded with an eighth-minute goal.

Melissa Herrera had room at the top of the 18-yard box, and Mexico goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago quickly came off her line to challenge.

Herrera got a shot past Santiago, but it banged off the post. Carolina Venegas stuffed the rebound into a wide-open net.

“We knew we had the elements to win. We respected Mexico, but we knew we had the players to win the game,” Averdissian said.

Mexico seemed shell-shocked, and didn’t mount any semblance of offense until the second half. It had a couple of opportunities, perhaps none better than Veronica Perez’s shot from distance in the 63rd minute that was ushered over the crossbar by Costa Rica goalkeeper Dinnia Diaz.

“They put the ball in the net. They created an emotional impact on our team at the start of the game,” Mexico coach Leonardo Cuellar said. “Costa Rica started with more determination, and Mexico was more shaky and more unstable emotionally. We’re old rivals, so it’s always a big battle, close matches. … We planned to come out strong, but they were better than us.”

Jamaica 6, Martinique 0

Jamaica used an early barrage and a late barrage to put away Martinique. It scored twice in the first six minutes, and added three more in a six minute-span late in the second half.

Christina Murray and Donnakay Henry each scored two goals.

Jamaica scored one goal or fewer in 12 of its previous 13 CONCACAF Women’s Championship games. It could’ve easily had more.

“In terms of finishing, we need to fix that. Because we had the game, the girls probably lost focus, but we need to stick in there for 90-plus minutes,” Jamaica coach manager Merron Gordon said.

Martinique made its tournament debut and was grateful for the experience.

“It’s the first time we played at this competition … we’ve come to learn, and we know it’s important to see (the competition) in order to walk (with them,)” Martinique coach Charlaine Marie Jeanne said through an interpreter.