USA-based duo, Stephanie Whiteman and Brianna Govia are among seven players with senior team experience named in an 18-member team by coach Brian Garcia to represent this country in the upcoming Junior Women’s Pan American Hockey Championship.
The nine-team tournament to be hosted by the T&T Hockey Board flicks off at the National Hockey Centre, Tacarigua, from March 30 to April 10. T&T will come against world seventh ranked USA, Canada (#19) and Mexico (#34) in Pool B, while second ranked Argentina, Chile (#21), Uruguay (#25), Barbados (#48) and Venezuela, (#63) are in Pool A.
At the end of the two round-robin groups, the top two teams in each group will advance to the semifinals from which the winners will qualify for the Junior Hockey World Cup in Santiago, Chile, from November 26 to December 4.
The other members of the team who have had the experience of playing with the senior women’s team are team captain Kayla Brathwaite, Savannah De Freitas, Chelsea Dey, Jessica Lee and Samantha Olton
Other members of the team selected by Garcia, himself a former national player are USA-based Kristin Abreu, Lisa Benjamin, Shaniah De Freitas, Kayla-Marie Escayg (goalkeeper), Kherdine Gonsalves, Cyan Lue Sue, Saarah Olton, Stephanie Smith (goalkeeper) and Amanda Tang Nian.
The local women's team will open its campaign against USA on March 30 from 4 pm in the opening day’s fourth and final match, before facing Mexico on April 2 from 4 pm and a day later versus Canada from 4 pm as well in their final pool match ahead of the playoffs.
The first Junior Pan American Championship for women was held in 1988 in Buenos Aires. Argentina has won six of the seven previous competitions, including the last one in 2012 in Guadalajara, Mexico, where they shared the podium with Canada (second) and the USA (third). The USA are the only other winner of the competition, defeating Chile in the final in 2008 in Mexico City.
In 1992, T&T women’s squad featuring captain Nicky Young Pow, Stacey Siu Butt, Nicole Aming, Natalie Nieves, Dixie-Ann de Roche, and Jennifer Jones qualified for its first and only FIH Junior World Cup in Terrassa, Spain, after ending runner-up to Argentina in the Pan American qualifier which was held in Caracas, Venezuela.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a senior T&T women’s XI will come up against Chile in a practice match at Tacarigua from 6.30 pm.
The T&T women’s squad will feature Arresia Sandy, Petal Derry, Fiona O’Brien, Kwylan Jaggassar, Sekayi Liburd, Amanda George, Jessica Lee, Saarah Olton, Alanna Lewis (captain), Avion Ashton, Kayla Brathwaite, Samantha Olton, Krizia Layne, Brittney Hingh, Zene Henry, Caithlyn Olton, Kristin Abreu and Felicia King. The coaches are Darren Cowie and Glenn “Fido” Francis.
Group stage Schedule:
10 am Chile vs Venezuela Noon Uruguay vs Barbados Pool B
2 pm Canada vs Mexico 4 pm USA vs T&T March 31
2 pm Argentina vs Venezuela
4 pm Chile vs Barbados April 2
10 am Barbados vs Venezuela
Noon Uruguay vs Argentina Pool B
2 pm Canada vs USA 4 pm T&T vs Mexico April 3
10 am Venezuela vs Uruguay Noon Chile vs Argentina Pool B
2 pm USA vs Mexico 4 pm T&T vs Canada April 5
2 pm Argentina vs Barbados
4 pm Uruguay vs Chile
T&T Junior (Under-21) women’s hockey squad: Kristin Abreu, Lisa Benjamin, Kayla Brathwaite, captain, Savannah De Freitas, Shaniah De Freitas, Chelsea Dey, Kayla-Marie Escayg (GK), Kherdine Gonsalves, Brianna Govia, Felicia King, Jessica Lee, Cyan Lue Sue, Daniella Martin, Saarah Olton, Samantha Olton, Stephanie Smith (GK), Amanda Tang Nian, Stephanie Whiteman.
Technical staff: Brian Garcia (coach), Valisha Sylvester (manager), Tyrell Roberts (stand-in manager), Vanita Jagai (medical doctor), Kemba Noel-London (physiotherapist)