Canada Soccer’s U-20 Women’s Team leaves down under having learned valuable lessons against two very different opponents, after splitting their two matches with a 4-1 win over the USA and a 1-0 loss to home side Australia.
“Each game gave us an opportunity to bring it to another level, which will help us on our journey towards the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2018, and for the players, their journey towards Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team,” said Bev Priestman, Canada Soccer National Excel Director 14-20. “These players know that every time they put that shirt on they have to keep pushing to new levels and that’s what we will be continuing to asking of this group moving towards 2018.”
Canada 4:1 USA
Canada’s U-20 Women’s Team won their opening match in Australia 4-1 over the Americans with goals by Sarah Stratigakis (PK), Jordyn Huitema, Julia Grosso and Florence Laroche.
Both Canada and the Americans fielded young squads, Canada played three U-17 players and the majority of the team have at least two U-20 cycles ahead of them, while the Americans fielded a U-18 team.
Canada’s strong showing in its first match demonstrated how Canada Soccer’s investment in the EXCEL system is continuing to develop players evolved out of the regional EXCEL (REX) system.
“We are really happy to have scored four goals in an international fixture. To score four goals, Canada’s attacking qualities were on show. Overall, we are really happy,” said Priestman.
Canada’s goals came early, starting with a penalty kick from Sarah Stratigakis in the fifth minute. Jordyn Huitema made it 2-0 in the 22nd with a solo effort and a shot from the top of the box. Florence Laroche put Canada up 3-0 in the 73rd after getting past the defense and going one-on-one with the keeper before slipping it by her. Canada’s final goal was scored by Julia Grosso in a perfect free kick from just outside the USA box in the 81st minute. Emina Ekic scored the American’s lone goal in extra time (90’+3).
Canada’s Starting XI against the USA consisted of Rylee Foster in net; Emma Regan, Ashley Cathro, Kaela Hansen, Hannah Taylor on defense; Julia Grosso, Marika Guay and Sarah Stratigakis (Captain) in midfield; and Jordyn Huitema, Jayde Riviere and Florence Laroche up front. Subs for the Canadian side were Sam Chang for Guay and Tanya Boychuk for Huitema in the 46th minute; Gabrielle Carle for Riviere in the 66th; Maya Antoine for Regan in the 74th; and Vital Kats for Grosso in the 85th.
Canada 0:1 Australia
Canada fell 1-0 to Australia in its second match, despite a gritty effort with plenty of chances.
“The match against Australia was very different from the USA match in the sense that we got what we expected from the Australian team, a very physical, aggressive, high pressing team with good experience, and I think that showed,” said Priestman. “The USA played a deep block which allowed us to get our attacking rhythm and break them down, whereas the Australia match was much more chaotic and called upon much more of that Canadian grit, which the team did bring. We had several chances and it was one of those games where the ball just doesn’t find the back of the net, but regardless a great learning experience for the team.”
Australia’s goal came in the 53rd minute, when Alex Chidiac broke away from the defense and managed to slip the ball between the keeper’s legs as she advanced to cut the angle.
Canada’s Starting XI against the Australians consisted of Lysianne Proulx in net; Emma Regan, Ashley Cathro, Olivia Sheppard, Hannah Taylor in defense, Vital Kats, Samantha Chang and Gabrielle Carle (Captain) in midfield; and Lauren Raimondo, Jayde Riviere and Tanya Boychuk up front. Subs for the Canadian side were Sarah Stratigakis for Riviere, Jessica Lisi for Cathro, and Marika Guay for Chang in the 46th minute, Julia Grosso for Kats in the 54th; Kaela Hansen for Sheppard in the 64th; and Florence Laroche for Carle in the 70th.
Retired Women’s National Team players Carmelina Moscato and Rhian Wilkinson served as coaches during the matches, with Moscato heading up the game against the USA and Wilkinson leading the match against the Australians.
The three nations tournament in Canberra, Australia was a key touchpoint prior to CONCACAF qualification for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018, and provided Canada Soccer’s technical staff with an opportunity to assess the group and better understand the curriculum needs going in to 2018’s major events, as well as the development needs of individuals in their journey towards the Women’s National Team.