HOUSTON – Returning senior Rhea Belgrave and signee Karyn Forbes of the West Texas A&M women’s soccer team will be representing Trinidad & Tobago’s women’s national team later this month in the inaugural CFU (Caribbean Football Union) Women’s Caribbean Cup, the last phase of competition before the final qualifying round leading up to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Eight teams from the region will be competing in the tournament hosted by T&T later this month and will be split between two groups. T&T, commonly referred to as the Soca Princesses, are considered the favorites in the field while they have also received a favorable draw in Group A along with Antigua & Barbuda, Martinique, and St. Kitts & Nevis. T&T is undefeated against all three teams from this group in its history. Group B consists of Bermuda, Jamaica, Haiti, and Puerto Rico.
The CFU Women’s Caribbean Cup will take place in T&T from Aug. 19-26. The Soca Princesses will open up the tournament on Aug. 20 against St. Kitts & Nevis. They will then host Antigua & Barbuda and Martinique on Aug. 22 & 24, respectively. The Third Place match between both group’s runners-up and the Championship between both group’s winners will be held on Aug. 26.
Belgrave and Forbes will both be holding the backline as defenders for T&T in this tournament. Belgrave has already had an outstanding career thus far in her two seasons with WT. The Port of Spain, native came to Canyon in the fall of 2012 after transferring from Concordia College (N.Y.). As a sophomore, she started 11 matches while seeing time in 13 and was named Lone Star Conference All-Conference Honorable Mention. Last year, in 2013, Belgrave was titled LSC Defensive Player of the Year in addition to being named NSCAA Second-Team All-Region, Daktronics Second-Team All-Region, LSC All-Conference and LSC All-Tournament. She logged 1,928 minutes on the pitch, the most of any Lady Buff, started 19 of 20 matches, manufactured 22 shots, nine of which were on-goal, and anchored a defensive line that produced eight shutouts. She heads into the 2014 fall season as the LSC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year for the No. 3 Lady Buffs.
The Soca Princesses are currently in Houston, Texas preparing for the tournament as they are slated to participate in a few practice matches under new head coach Randy Waldrum. Currently at the helm of the expansion Houston Dash of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), Waldrum has coached both the men's and women's teams at the University of Tulsa, founded the women's soccer program at Baylor University and led the Notre Dame women's team to two NCAA Division I National Championships (2004, 2010). In addition to Belgrave and Forbes, there lies another connection between T&T and WT soccer. Butch Lauffer, current WT men’s team coach and former WT women’s coach, has spent a portion of his recent offseason assisting Waldrum in his establishment of the Dash in Houston. Their friendship and professional relationship dates back nearly 30 years.
In order to advance to the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) Women’s Championship, the final World Cup qualifying round for teams located in the North American, Central American, and Caribbean nations, the Soca Princess must finish in the top-four at the CFU Women’s Caribbean Cup this month.
The CONCACAF Women’s Championship will be held Oct. 15-26, 2014 across four U.S. cities: Chicago, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. Aside from the Caribbean qualifiers, competitors at CONCACAF will include USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. The two finalists and winner of the match for third place will advance automatically, while the side finishing fourth will go into a play-off against a team from CONMEBOL (South American Football Confederation) for the chance to join the top trio at Canada in 2015.
Canada is an automatic qualifier for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup as the tournament’s host site. The tournament will be held June 6-July 5, 2015 across six cities: Edmonton, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Winnipeg. T&T is seeking its first appearance in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
For more information and updates throughout the CFU Women’s Caribbean Cup, check out FIFA.com <http://www.fifa.com/index.html> along with socawarriors.net <http://socawarriors.net/> , the official supporters’ website of T&T national football.