Concacaf W Gold Cup preliminary matches set up group stage – Equalizer Soccer

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Brenda Cerén runs towards the camera with her arms out in celebration and a wide grin on her face.

Photo via Concacaf W Gold Cup

On Saturday, at Dignity Health Sports Park six different teams faced off in a battle for the final three spots in the group stage of the Concacaf W Gold Cup. In Carson, California each team played one win-and-advance match, hoping to move on to the competition’s next stage kicking off this Tuesday. Here is a quick recap of the results and what it means for each team moving on.

For more on the tournament and what there is to look forward to, check out The Equalizer’s five things to know about the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup.

Guyana 0, Dominican Republic 1

The first game of the Concacaf W Gold Cup play-in round was also the first ever played between the sides. In the end, the Dominican Republic recorded the first victory between the two, earning themselves a place in Group A. Both sides had chances to score but the Dominican Republic took the lead in the 55th minute thanks to Kathryn González. The forward clinically dispatched a quality shot from outside the box immediately upon receiving the pass back from her teammate trying to recycle a corner attempt.

The eventual victors had multiple chances to increase their lead and generally dominated the game but could not score another. One goal ended up being enough to advance the Dominicans to group-stage matches against the United States, Mexico, and Argentina. They will face the United States women’s national team first, opening their Group A play on Tuesday.

Haiti 0, Puerto Rico 1

There were high expectations for Haiti after their performance at the 2023 Women’s World Cup but Puerto Rico upset the favorites, earning the last spot in Group B. The game-winning goal came thanks to the penalty conversion by Jillienne Aguilera in the 41st minute. NWSL fans may recognize the goalscorer from the Chicago Red Stars but it was goalkeeper Sydney Martínez whose heroics ensured her goal was the winner. Martínez finished the game with 15 saves, including a penalty stop in the 74th minute on Nerilia Mondesir.

Puerto Rico will now face Brazil, Colombia, and Panama in the group stage. They will open group play against Brazil on Wednesday night at Snapdragon Stadium, the host of the 2023 NWSL Championship match, in San Diego, California.

El Salvador 3, Guatemala 1

The last ticket to the group stage was earned in dominant fashion by the Brenda Cerén led El Salvador women’s national team. Cerén scored a hat trick to guide her team to victory over Guatemala. She started the scoring early, netting the game’s first goal in just the 19th minute.

After a VAR review in the 36th minute, Guatemala were reduced to 10 players when Savianna Gomez had a yellow card upgraded to a red. Taking advantage of the situation, Cerén doubled the lead in first-half stoppage time with a composed finish in-behind the defense. The star of the night completed her hat trick in the 69th minute with a penalty conversion.

Despite the scoreline, Guatemala did not give up, scoring a stylish 77th minute goal to reduce the deficit. Ana Lucía Martínez showed off her ball control as she dribbled through defenders and fired a shot from distance just over the hands of the outstretched goalkeeper.

In the end, El Salvador secured the last spot in Group C alongside Canada, Costa Rica, and Paraguay. They will play their first group stage game against the Canadians on Thursday at the Shell Energy Stadium in Houston, Texas.

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