After a six year absence from senior women’s CONCACAF final tournaments, Haiti is back, better and younger than ever.
Update (31-Jan-2020): Haiti made late changes to their final roster, just after this article was published (Twitter):
- Unavailable: Angeline Gustave (right knee), center back Tabita Joseph (right ankle)
- Replaced by Gaëlle Dumas and Maudeline Moryl (both born in 2003)
The rest of this article has not been updated.
Regarding Haiti’s youth, not only does their team have the youngest average age of any squad at this year’s CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, at just 20.38 years-old, they also have the youngest “oldest player”, Johane LaForte, who does not turn 24 until late February.
The most striking age-related factoid is that every player on Haiti’s roster is younger than the youngest player on the United States Women’s National Team’s roster, Andi Sullivan, who is 24.11 year-old.
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Over half of Haiti’s roster for this tournament were members of their history-making Under-20 Women’s National Team in 2018*, including Nérilia “NériGol” Mondésir, who scored twice against Germany in the team’s first FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup (official highlights), and is the team’s top professional player, regularly starting for French D1 side Montpellier HSC (fbref.com stats), which includes French WNT players Valérie Gauvin, Sakina Karchaoui, and Marion Torrent (MHSC roster).
*A total of 12, not the 9 according to U.S. Soccer’s preview write-up, which is missing defenders Tabita Joseph, who’s listed first name is Dougenie on FIFA’s website, and Ruthny Mathurin, plus midfielder Angeline Gustave.
Haiti earned their ticket for that U-20 WWC via an impressive knock-out round performance in the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship: A 1:1 draw against the U-20 USWNT in the semifinal (Haiti lost the penalty shoot-out) and a solid 1:0 win over Canada in the Third-Place match (official highlights). In that semifinal against the U-20 USWNT, Mondésir equalized for a 10-woman Haiti (official highlight).
While Haiti lost all three of its group matches in their debut U-20 WWC, those losses were all respectable (1:3 versus China PR; 0:1 versus Nigeria, on a PK goal; 2:3 versus Germany).
Five players from Haiti’s U-20 WWC squad were also members of their U-17 WNT in 2018, who finished fourth in that year’s CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship, including Melchie Daëlle Dumo(r)nay**, who earned the Golden Ball as best player (Twitter). In that tournament, Haiti tied Mexico in the group match and lost by one goal against both the U-17 USWNT (a 2:3 semifinal loss and Canada (a 1:2 third-place match loss) in the knock-out round.
**Per CONCACAF and FIFA, this player’s family name does not include an “r,” but Haiti’s FA normally spells her last name with the “r”.
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None of the players on Haiti’s roster have played in the a senior CONCACAF championship. Haiti almost qualified for the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, leading Jamaica 2:1 at half-time, but a second-half equalizer by Khadija “Bunny” Shaw from the spot gave Jamaica the draw that needed to advance, as the Reggae Girlz had the goal difference advantage.
Just seven players on this roster faced the senior USWNT the last times the two sides faced each other: In the 2015 post-WWC Victory Tour, when Haiti then led by Shek Borkowski,replaced Australia for two friendlies.
Of those seven players, three started both matches: The previously mentioned Nérilia Mondésir plus likely starting center back Soveline Beaubrun, and possible starting central forward Batcheba Louis. Midfielder Sherly Jeudy, who scored the game-winner against Canada in the 2018 U-20 CONCACAF qualifying tournament, and midfielder Phiseline Michel each played a half in their first match, while defender Emeline Charles and and goalkeeper Jonie Gabriel both saw only a handful of minutes over the two matches. (U.S. Soccer match reports: 17-Sep-2015, 20-Sep-2015)
According to Soccerway’s database, Haiti has played just 8 senior WNT matches since those two friendlies in 2015, all within the past two years. They were scheduled to play in the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games, but withdrew, forfeiting their three group matches (Wikipedia).
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Recent Matches and a New Head Coach
In August 2019, less than two months before qualifying for this tournament, the French-born Laurent Mortel was hired as the new head coach of Haiti’s WNT (HaitiTempo.com #1), on a two-year contract (HaitiTempo.com #2), replacing the previous coach, Stéphane Defour, who lives in Texas and helped the team with their travel planning for this tournament (FHFHaiti on Facebook). Mortel was previously the coach for Montepellier HSC women’s reserve squad and also the women’s soccer team for the Université de Montpellier (MHSConair.com). (A majority of players on the university’s team are part of the MHSC reserves.)
In order to qualify, Haiti needed to win their three-team group, which also included Puerto Rico and Suriname. In their first match, Haiti demolished Suriname 10-nil, including 4 goals from Mondésir, plus two goals each from Batcheba Louis and Mikerline Saint-Félix. (FHFHaiti on Twitter) (U.S. Soccer’s preview write-up credits Louis with a hat-trick and Saint-Félix with just one goal.) Saint-Félix headed home the opening goal against Puerto Rico, but the hosts equalized before the first-half whistle. Dumo(r)nay, who also scored against Suriname, scored the game-winner several minutes before second-half stoppage time.
Haiti’s FA posted line-up graphics on these two matches, which seem to be accurate, based on full match videos that are available on YouTube. Note that the player’s given names are listed instead of their family names, and in the case of Dumo(r)nay, her nickname “Corventina” is used.
vs. Puerto Rico
Haiti seems to be using a 4-3-3 formation similar to the USWNT, with a single “6” in Danielle Etienne (vs. Suriname) or Angeline Gustave (vs. Puerto Rico).
For the backline, Soveline Beaubrun and Tabita Joseph were the preferred starting center backs in both matches, while Ruthny Mathurin and Emeline Charles were used as outside backs. Based on a highlights compilation, former Texas A&M player Chelsea Surpris seem to be primarily a center back, though it appears that she was also used as a defensive midfielder during her NCAA days.
Returning to the midfield, Melchie Dumo(r)nay, who is listed under her nickname “Corventina,” and Sherly Jeudy started both matches as the more offensive-minded midfielders.
Up top, the only constant is Montpellier’s Nérilia Mondésir, who started as left winger against Suriname (not the right, as shown in the graphic). Central options are Batcheba Louis and Mikerline Saint-Félix, who both play for French Division 2 clubs.
In preparation for this tournament, last week, Haiti played a closed-door training match against the senior Canada WNT (Twitter) and an exhibition match against Texas A&M (Twitter). Each match ended in a 1:1 draw, with Mikerline Saint-Félix scoring against Canada on a fast counter-attack and 16-year-old Melchie Dumo(r)nay netting a long-distance golazo against the Aggies.
Here’s how Haiti scored their goal in the training match versus Canada:
And, their goal against Texas A&M:
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A Chance, But Not Against the USWNT
Haiti’s new head coach, Laurent Mortel, already admitted as much in a November 2019 phone interview (HaitiTempo.com), saying “It’s up to us to finish behind the USA” (translated from French), and adding (also translated):
“We are in a group of four, and the USA, I think there is no mystery to be said about that, they will probably finish in first place. So, we are going to have another “championship” of three, and I think that it is on this “championship” that we will have to orient ourselves in order to finish first in this little triangular. “
More on being grouped with the USWNT (also translated):
“It was a more-or-less hoped-for draw. When you’re a competitor, it’s a real chance to be able to play against the best in the world. The USA is the reigning world champion. It’s an extremely difficult team to beat and we saw that during the last World Cup in France. I am someone who prefers to play against the best teams. I think this is a real opportunity for us to be able to play against this team. “
One benefit for Haiti being grouped with the USWNT is that they will not face the dominant team in CONCACAF if they reach the all-or-nothing semifinal. Instead, they would most likely face Canada, with whom they just recently drew 1:1 in a closed-door match. Caribbean rival Jamaica, another team that they tied in their most recent encounter, or Mexico, who did not even qualify for last year’s WWC, are also likely possibilities.
But, first, Haiti has to limit the damage the USWNT might inflict in terms of goal difference, primarily in case Haiti has to settle for a draw against one of its other Group A opponents, namely Costa Rica. While Panama had a strong run in WWC qualifying last cycle, reaching the intercontinental play-off against Argentina, they are missing most of their leading goal-scorers. With that much offensive talent missing, they are unlikely to be strong contenders this go-around.
HAITI’S ROSTER FOR CONCACAF OLYMPIC QUALIFYING 2020
Parenthetical Key: Club, Country / Division Level (if not in Haiti); Age at the Start of the Tournament (28-Jan-2020)
Madelina Fleuriot (Exafoot; 16.25)*
Jonie Gabriel (AS Tigresses; 22.16)
Kerly Theus (Aigle Brillant; 21.06)*
Soveline Beaubrun (AS Tigresses; 22.14)
Emeline Charles (Aigle Brillant; 20.25)*
(Dougenie) Tabita Joseph (AS Tigresses; 16.38)*
Johane Laforte (Anacaona SC; 23.93)
Kethna Louis (Havre AC, FRA/D2; 23.48)
Ruthny Mathurin (AS Tigresses; 19.04)*
Chelsea Surpris (Unattached; 23.10;)
Melchie Daëlle “Corventina” Dumo(r)nay (AS Tigresses; 16.45)*
Danielle “Dany” Etienne (Fordham University, USA; 19.03)*
Angeline Gustave (AS Tigresses; 18.99)*
Sherly Jeudy (Anacaona SC; 21.29)*
Phiseline Michel (AS Tigresses; 22.51)
Roseline Eloissaint (AS Tigresses; 20.94)*
Abaina Louis (AS Tigresses; 18.18)
Batcheba Louis (FF Issy Les Moulineaux, FRA/D2; 22.62)
Nérilia Mondésir (Montpellier HSC, FRA/D1; 21.03)*
Mikerline Saint-Félix (Montauban FC, FRA/D2; 20.19)*
ADDITIONAL PLAYER NOTES
College Connections: At least two players have or had played for an NCAA Division 1 women’s soccer program.
- Danielle “Dany” Etienne is currently a freshman at Fordham University (team profile). She is the daughter of a former Haiti MNT player, Derrick Etienne (Wikipedia) and the brother of a current Haiti MNT player, Derrick Etienne, Junior, who was most recently signed to the Red Bulls (Wikipedia, MLS profile) and is currently on trial with the Columbus Crew (Twitter).
- Chelsea Surpris played for the University of Texas from 2015-2018 (Texas profile), where she started every match of her junior season, playing 2004 out of 2005 possible minutes that year. Surpris made the preseason roster for the Chicago Red Stars in Spring 2019, but not the regular season roster. In October 2019, she was hired as an assistant coach for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette women’s soccer team (RaginCajuns.com profile). Prior to college, Surpris played for the Dallas Sting ECNL club.
Emeline Charles, A Caution-ary Tale… At the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship, Charles earned a red card against the USA after being cautioned for a pair of reckless fouls on USA players, first on Sophia Smith (67′, YouTube highlight) and fifteen minutes later, after making head-to-head contact with Brianna Pinto (83′, YouTube highlight). (The full match is available on CONCACAF’s YouTube channel.) Earlier in that tournament, Charles was given a yellow card for tripping Costa Rica’s Gloriana Villalobos as she was dribbling toward goal (14′, YouTube highlight). And, in the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s U-17 Championship, Charles also earned a yellow card for an awkward and reckless foul on a Mexican player (55′, YouTube highlight).
Melchie Daëlle “Corventina” Dumo(r)nay: As noted above, on the official CONCACAF roster and FIFA U-20 WWC microsite, her name is listed as “Dumonay” (no “r”), while the FHFHaiti social media accounts and Haitian news sites tend to use “Dumornay” (with the “r”). Her nickname “Corventina” is also used by FHFHaiti in social media postings, including starting line-up lists/graphics.