Canada secures a spot in Women’s Under-17 Championship Semis

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Canada has secured a spot in the semi finals at the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship. The undefeated Canadian side won 7:0 over the hosts Grenada on the second match day at Grenada Athletic Stadium in St. George’s, GRN. Four different players scored for Canada in the win, led by a hat trick by striker Teni Akindoju.

Canada remains in second place in Group A, with leaders Haiti equal on six points, but ahead with +14 goal difference (compared to Canada’s +10). Haiti won 3:2 win over Guatemala on Saturday 5 March before Canada beat Grenada.

In the group finale on Monday 7 March, Canada will face Haiti for first place in Group A. The final Group A seeding will determine how Canada and Haiti cross over to face a Group B opponent in the CONCACAF semi finals. Group B still have upcoming matches on 6 and 8 March, with USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Jamaica all still on the board.

The Friday 11 March CONCACAF semi finals will qualify two nations to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016. A third nation will qualify two days later in the match for third place.

Canada has opened the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship with wins against Guatemala (3:0) and Grenada (7:0). Jayde Riviere, Sarah Stratigakis, and Vital Kats were the goal scorers against Guatemala; Nahida Baalbaki, Akindoju (three), Jordyn Huitema (two), and Kennedy Faulknor were the goal scorers against Grenada.

“Haiti will look to come out strong against us,” said Akindoju, the hat trick hero on the second day. “We will need to stick to our game plan and look to beat them (to win the group).”

After two matches, Canada has featured all 20 players, ensuring that no player is over taxed ahead of the group finale. Goalkeepers Lysianne Proulx and Marissa Zucchetto have posted clean sheets each.

“In transition, Haiti is dangerous,” said Bev Priestman, Canada Soccer’s Women’s National U-17 Coach. “They are quick, they are strong, and they are a lot bigger than what we are. I think in an attacking way we can cause them some real problems, we just have to be disciplined.”

The Canada-Haiti group finale will kick off at 17.00 local (16.00 ET / 13.00 PT) at the Grenada Athletic Stadium on Monday night.

Canada booked their place in the knockout rounds on Saturday evening with a 7:0 victory over tournament hosts Grenada in their second group game at the CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship. The scoring was opened by Nahida Baalbaki and Teni Akindoju contributed a hat trick in the first half; the game was finished with second-half goals by Jordyn Huitema (two) and Kennedy Faulknor.

Ashley Cathro, Sarah Stratigakis, Camila Gomez, and Baalbika recorded assists, while Baalbika hit the crossbar twice and Huitema hit the post once. The Canadian defence was once again strong, with Marissa Zucchetto and her defence posting the clean sheet. The final numbers showed in Canada’s favour with 74% possession and an 89% passing accuracy through 510 passes.

There were an incredible 41 shots by Canada.

It didn’t take long for the Baby Reds to make an impression on the game. A shot from Stratigakis in the third minute was saved by Holly Charles in the Grenada net to concede a corner. From the resulting dead ball, Ashley Cathro swung in a cross from the right that was won by Nahida Baalbaki who had lost her marker and was all alone near the penalty spot. Her header looped up and beyond the keeper into the top left corner of the net.

The second goal came in the 12th minute after Camila Gomez picked the ball up and drifted in from a deep position on the right hand side. Her centre for Baalbaki was knocked back for Stratigakis who then took off down the left channel. Her sharp ball through found Teni Akindoju on the penalty spot with her back to goal. She took one touch on the half turn to settle the ball, and then put her right foot through it with the second, forcing it into the bottom right. The goalkeeper got a hand to it, but couldn’t stop the shot from finding its way in.

Canada’s third, and Akindoju’s second, came only moments later. Baalbaki picked the ball up a long way out and tried a speculative effort. The shot dipped dramatically and bounced off the bar and through the goalkeeper’s hands. Charles scrambled after it, but Gomez was rushing in to apply pressure and make sure the ball was kept alive. It bobbled out to Akindoju who had the simple task of rolling it into an empty net.

In the 27th minute, Akindoju completed her hat-trick. A corner from the left was taken short by Samantha Chang to Camila Gomez. Her pass was cut out by Maya Hadeed, who couldn’t get the ball clear. Gomez rushed in, hustling the ball loose just inside the penalty area, in front of the goal. She nudged it forward for Akindoju who was on the edge of the six yard box. Akindoju took a touch past McSween and stretched to whip it into the top right corner with her right foot.

Unfortunately Charles was heavily to blame for the goal that followed in the 72nd. Canada worked the ball out to the right, where L’Espérance and Riviere combined well to provide the full back a crossing opportunity. The ball was floated in to the centre, and the Grenada goalkeeper was up well, only to let it slip through her hands, where it landed onto the obliging Huitema, who was able to walk the ball in from five yards out.

The Grenada captain McSween fouled Jordyn Huitema in the 86th, giving up a free kick in a dangerous area. Nahida Baalbaki floated the ball from the top left of the penalty are towards the centre of the box where Kennedy Faulknor had made an intelligent run from the pack of players. Maya Hadeed missed her header and Faulknor hammered the header into the bottom left corner from the edge of the six yard box, barely having to break stride.

The scoring was finished off in the 89th minute. Baalbaki picked the ball up 35 yards from goal, towards the left side and fed Julia Grosso who was dashing up the centre. Grosso danced past one challenge into the penalty box and saw a gap in the very deep Grenada defensive line. She fired her shot toward the bottom left, only to see Charles get a hand to it and beat it out. Any joy, however, was short-lived, as Jordyn Huitema was chasing in after the shot and once again found herself proving that hard work makes luck. She adjusted her body well to the unexpected rebound and cushioned it in to the empty net for her second of the game.

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