TORONTO – Spare a thought for Noelia Bermudez.
Costa Rica’s beleaguered goalkeeper was left completely exposed by her hapless defenders in an embarrassing 6-0 loss to Canada on Sunday in an international women’s soccer friendly.
On a gloriously sunny afternoon before 20,628 spectators at BMO Field, Canada ruthlessly laid siege upon Bermudez’s goal early on and never let up, taking full advantage of some comically relaxed defending from Costa Rica’s back line.
“The game was pretty much put to bed by halftime,” Canadian coach John Herdman admitted.
That’s a massive understatement. This was women vs. girls stuff. Canada looked every bit like the fifth-ranked team in the world, Costa Rica looked every bit the 30th, and the chasm between the two looked even bigger.
How bad was the carnage? Consider this: The Reds comfortably jumped out to a 4-0 lead without shifting out of first gear after just 21 minutes thanks to an opening goal from 18-year-old Deanne Rose and a hat trick by 22-year-old Janine Beckie.
“I’d been on a bit of a scoring drought for a while, so as soon as that first one came it gave me a bit more confidence to go for [more],” Beckie stated.
Neither No. 1 goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe, nor backup Kailen Sheridan (who came on at the start of the second half) had to make anything that even closely resembled a difficult save. The Central Americans struggled to retain possession for any length of time, and gave the Canadians ample time on the ball during their buildup play.
Sunday marked the second match this week between these two nations – Canada earned a 3-1 victory on Thursday night in Winnipeg. Herdman made two lineup changes from that game, starting defender Lindsay Agnew in place of Allysha Chapman, and midfielder Rebecca Quinn instead of Desiree Scott. You had the sense Herdman could have completely changed his starting 11 and the result what have been exactly the same.
“I’m proud of the six goals. It’s part of us pushing to be number one in the world, which is our goal. We showed our fans and those watching that we are of that quality. Nine goals in two games is just the beginning for us on this exciting road,” Beckie boldly promised.
On the surface, it’s hard to imagine what Herdman’s team gained from Sunday’s outing, and what the value was from this lopsided, two-game series against an opponent that clearly wasn’t up to Canada’s standard.
Herdman’s long-term goal is to help Canada break through the glass ceiling and become one the truly elite teams in women’s soccer. Games such as this one help the Reds build chemistry and allow their crop of talented youngsters to gain valuable experience, according to Herdman.
“It’ll take time. I don’t think we’re there yet. To be honest, we’re a good two years [away from] that. … More chemistry is the difference,” Herdman said.
“You start forming a squad that’s played together; they know each other so well, and I think that’s what’s going to evolve over the next two years. We’ll need that because this team will have to play faster when we go up against Germany and the U.S. in a World Cup semifinal or final whenever we get there.”
It took Canada only three minutes to open its account on Sunday. Jessie Fleming, 19, released Christine Sinclair on goal with a raking ball, and Canada’s captain played a pass to the near-post where Rose beat a Costa Rican defender to it and tipped it by Bermudez.
Three minutes later Beckie beat the offside trap and whipped a high shot past Bermudez after being sent in on goal by Quinn. Beckie added a second goal in the 13th, this time on a sublime setup from Fleming, and she completed her hat trick eight minutes later with a volley from close range after receiving a clever pass from Sinclair.
Both Rose and Sinclair had chances to add to Canada’s lead late in the half but were wasteful in front of goal. It was only a brief reprieve.
Jordyn Huitema, a 16-year-old forward who subbed on for Sinclair midway through the second half, bundled home Canada’s fifth goal in the 73rd minute during a goal-mouth scramble, and scored less than a minute later with poised finish.
“Truthfully, I thought my teammate [Nichelle Prince] scored it. I went to celebrate with her and then everybody ran towards me, so I really didn’t know what was going on. I’ll take anything I can get,” Huitema said of her fist goal in four appearances for Canada.
NOTES: At halftime, Canada Soccer paid tribute to five former players who recently retired: Lauren Sesselmann, Jonelle Filingo, Kaylyn Kyle, Josee Belanger and Robyn Gayle… Prior to kickoff, Canada Soccer honoured Amy Walsh as a member of the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame… Canada has won all 12 games against Costa Rica, outscoring the Central Americans 42-5…