FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (Concacaf) – In the final match of the day in the 2023 Gold Cup Prelims, Saint Kitts and Nevis got two saves from GK Julani Archibald to eliminate Curacao 3-2 in a hectic penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in regulation.
The Sugar Boyz found themselves with a very early breakaway, with Jacob Hazel getting the ball behind the defense in just the third minute of play, but Curacao’s Leandro Bacuna was able to track back and run him down before Hazel could fire off a shot.
But it was Curaçao who struck first. Jurgen Locadia let loose a low strike from the top of the penalty area in the 22nd minute that just barely made it past Archibald, brushing off his fingertips but not hard enough to change trajectory. It was Locadia’s first international goal and gave Curacao a 1-0 lead at halftime.
In the second half, the Sugar Boyz again came right out of the gates with a good chance. Omari Sterling-James had a very solid effort from long range in the 49th minute that Curacao GK Eloy Room was forced to parry away.
The game settled into a pattern reminiscent of the first half, with Curacao largely in control but unable to break through with any truly excellent chances. Archibald deserves plaudits for his safe hands; he caught several balls that would have been quite dangerous had he allowed a rebound.
The moment of the evening came in the 83rd minute. Tiquanny Williams cut the ball back towards the penalty spot and Tyquan Terrell rocketed it straight into the top corner of the net for a dramatic late equalizer.
At 1-1 after the 90 minutes were up, the game proceeded to a penalty shootout. Archibald saved the first kick, and Room responded with an even finer save. The two sides exchanged goals for several frames before Archibald produced another quality save in the fourth round. Terrell hit his penalty, and Leandro Bacuna put Curacao’s fifth over the bar, sending Saint Kitts and Nevis into hysteria.
Saint Kitts and Nevis will now get ready to face the winner of French Guiana and Sint Maarten for a place in the Gold Cup group stage.