With qualification for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 on the line, Canada Soccer’s Women’s U-20 team is preparing for Friday’s Semi-Final match versus Mexico where a win will automatically qualify Canada, and advance the team into the CONCACAF Championship Final match. A loss would force Canada into a critical must-win match for third place to qualify. Haiti and the USA face each other in the other Semi-Final match also to be played on Friday.
“We’ve come out of our group with nine points, that’s what we set out to do – to top our group,” said Bev Priestman Canada Soccer Women’s U-20 Head Coach and Women’s National EXCEL Director U15-U23. “We’ve also shown our attacking quality, with the leading tournament scorer (Jordyn Huitema) on our team, which is always a great confidence boost going into a knockout round.”
Canada won Group A, going undefeated across its three matches: 3:1 against Costa Rica, 4:1 against hosts Trinidad and Tobago, and 4:0 against Haiti. Leading the tournament in points, goal differential and goals scored, Canada is using the confidence the team has built over the group stage having outscored their opponents 11-2. Huitema leads the tournament with five goals, followed by Canada’s Shana Flynn and Haiti’s Nérilia Mondésir with three goals each. The top scorer of the tournament will be presented with the Golden Boot following the Final match on Sunday.
“I think we set ourselves up well for the tournament during our opening game against Costa Rica, and then we went into the host nation, which was a hostile environment, but Jordyn Huitema got a hat-trick in that game, and then going into the last game we had some really tired legs but Shana Flynn, who has just returned from an ACL injury, went out and got another hat-trick for this team,” reflected Priestman on the team’s group stage performance.
Canada’s next match against Mexico is expected to be much different from the group stage matches, but will be a familiar situation for some of the players, as it is a repeat of who Canada faced to qualify for the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s at the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship. Canada drew Mexico 0:0 but won 5:4 win on kicks from the penalty mark to qualify and earn a spot in the final.
“I’ve been really happy with our attacking quality, but going into the next match we are clear we are going to have to take it up a notch,” said Priestman. “Mexico are a well organised team with excellent offensive capabilities, so we know we have to bring more now and set ourselves up for what we hope to be a final match in the CONCACAF Championship.”