Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team won back-to-back international matches against Wales and England on the FIFA Women’s International Match Calendar: a 3:0 win over Wales last Friday and today a 2:0 win over England at Stoke-on-Trent. Canada won their Tuesday match on goals by Evelyne Viens and Nichelle Prince along with a clean sheet from Stephanie Labbé and the Canadian backline.
“We felt that we executed our strengths today on the pitch and that’s what Canada’s going to have to do in an Olympic Games to beat a tier-one opponent,” said Bev Priestman, Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team Head Coach. “We said that we have to be connected but we also wanted to be brave and when we get the ball, do what we do best. We’re delighted to get that win against a top-10 nation. We kept a clean sheet and we scored two goals, so it’s fantastic.”
Both international matches, broadcast live in Canada, are part of Canada’s preparations for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, with the Official Draw to take place on 21 April. Across the two matches, Labbé posted back-to-back clean sheets while Viens scored in back-to-back matches. Other goalscorers in the Wales match were Deanne Rose and Jessie Fleming.
“We scored five goals across two matches and that’s a start, it’s the confidence this group needed to push on,” said Priestman. “Canada can compete in an Olympic Games when the mindset is right. Our players are in a great space and it has been a pleasure to work with them in this camp.”
Canada opened the scoring in the third minute after Viens took advantage of a misplay by the England defence. From a Vanessa Gilles header, a pass from Fleming and then a run by Janine Beckie, the ball was directed off England’s Demi Stokes towards goal. Inside the England box, Viens held off Stokes to get the next touch with a shot that beat the goalkeeper Carly Telford for a 1-0 lead.
England put some pressure on Canada in the first half, but Canada stayed fluid and compact in defence. In the 29th minute, Labbé made an excellent save on a Jordan Nobbs free kick, tipping the shot off the crossbar and out for a corner kick.
In the second half, Canada kept their composure and created a few early chances. In the 49th minute, they had an attempt from long range, but the ball went out for a goal kick. In the 58th minute, a cross from Rose got into the box, but England cleared before Viens could direct it on goal.
England had a good chance in the 81st minute when Lauren Hemp got on a run after she stole the ball from Gilles, but Gilles tracked back and made an excellent clearance for the Canadian side.
Gilles was also part of the build up for the second Canadian goal in the 87th minute. This time, her long kick forward was directed back to goal by England’s Millie Bright. Goalkeeper Karen Bardsley only had a moment to touch the ball once before the onrushing Nichelle Prince forced the ball over the line for a 2-0 Canada lead.
“It was really good because we came out and really wanted to bring our game to them and that’s what we did,” said Canada goalscorer Nichelle Prince. “I think we were able to keep possession in our own end and break their press. On the other side, we were getting good opportunities, so for putting in a full 90-minute performance, it was good to finish it like that (with the second goal).”
Canada’s starting XI featured Stephanie Labbé in goal, Ashley Lawrence at right back, Vanessa Gilles and Shelina Zadorsky at centre back, Allysha Chapman at left back, and Desiree Scott, Quinn, Jessie Fleming, Deanne Rose, Evelyne Viens and Janine Beckie from the midfield up through to the attack. In the second half, coach Priestman replaced Rose with Nichelle Prince (59’), Viens with Huitema (59’), Scott with Jayde Riviere (66’), Quinn with Schmidt (82’).