Damion Stewart scored with two minutes left to play, heading in a shot past Haiti goalkeeper Peterson Occenat.
BY SANTOS A. PEREZ
Down a goal and a player, Jamaica escaped Lockhart Stadium with an appreciated result Saturday night in Fort Lauderdale.
Damion Stewart’s goal with two minutes remaining in regulation helped salvage a 2-2 draw for the Reggae Boyz against Haiti in an international friendly before about 8,000 fans.
»We showed a lot of spirit, a lot of heart and a lot of determination,» Jamaica coach John Barnes said. «The players showed all the qualities teams need to come back.»
Stewart sprinted toward the left post, received Jason Morrison’s free kick and headed in a shot past Haiti goalkeeper Peterson Occenat.
»I motioned to Jason to put it high because I had the height advantage,» Stewart said.
Haiti seemed headed to victory after Jean Robens Jerome broke a 1-1 tie with his second goal of the match in the 65th minute. Raymond Ednerson’s crossing pass from the left wing found Jerome near the 6-yard box, where he successfully converted on a shot past Jamaica goalkeeper Shawn Sawyers.
The duo also teamed to score Haiti’s game-tying point late in the first half. Ednerson sent a pass from the left wing to an open Jerome, whose shot just outside the 6-yard box eluded Sawyers.
Ednerson’s playmaking and passing from the left wing area nearly put Haiti ahead in the 42nd minute. Ednerson ran uncontested deep toward the left wing and sent a pass near the far post to an open Leonel Saint Preux.
But Saint Preux took too long to set up a shot, allowing Sawyers time to easily stop Saint Preux’s attempt from 18 yards.
Jamaica struck first on Nicholas Addlery’s goal in the 26th minute. Addlery eluded the Haiti defense and ran uncontested toward the large area for a one-on-one opportunity against Occenat.
Occenat left the goal area and made a leg save off Addlery’s first shot, but Addlery beat Occenat to the loose ball and tapped in an open shot inside the 6-yard box.
Jamaican defender Claude Davis and Haiti midfielder Vaniel Sirin collided violently in the midfield area and remained on the ground for three minutes.
Both players reached their feet, but the play resulted in Davis’ second yellow card of the match and a subsequent ejection.
Jamaica and Haiti used Saturday’s match as a tuneup for the 12-team CONCACAF Gold tournament in June. Jamaica will return to South Florida for a first-round Gold Cup match against El Salvador on July 10 at FIU Stadium.
Haiti opens Gold Cup play against Honduras on July 4 in Seattle.
»We are growing with each match,» Haiti coach Jairo Rios said. «This was just another opportunity to evaluate our team.»