Canadian soccer stars Lawrence, Buchanan square off in France


Canada's Kadeisha Buchanan chases down the ball. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

Ashley Lawrence and Kadeisha Buchanan spent most of their soccer lives playing on the same team.

Now the two Canadian internationals — and best friends — are slated to face off three times in the next three weeks with two cups on the line.

It starts Saturday, with Lawrence lining up at wingback for Paris Saint-Germain and Buchanan in the heart of the Olympique Lyonnais defence in a French league match.

The games ramp up in importance each time out. They meet May 19 in the French Cup final in Vannes and then June 1 in the European Women’s Champion League final in Cardiff, a contest as big as it gets in women’s club soccer.

Lawrence and Buchanan, both 21, grew up playing together in Brampton, Ont., and shared the field at West Virginia University. Buchanan has 69 caps for Canada while Lawrence has 52.

"I think it will bring it back to our childhood memories," Buchanan said of playing against each other. "For a long time we were on the same team and then for two years we were on different teams (in youth soccer), going head-to-head … But it’s exciting for us to both be in the finals."

With two games remaining in the season, Lyon (19-1-0) has already secured its 11th straight league title but third-place PSG (16-3-1) still needs points given it trails Montpellier (16-3-1) — by one point due to a rules offence — in the race for France’s second guaranteed European berth.

Lyon has been dominant this season, outscoring its league opposition 97-6. Its lone loss came Dec. 17 — 1-0 away to Paris Saint-Germain — in a game that came before either of the Canadians signed.

"I’m loving it," Lawrence said of playing in France. "It’s challenging every day but I’ve noticed a lot of growth in my game, even in the few months I’ve been here. And it’s translated onto the field in games."

Buchanan regularly trains against a talented strike force that includes Ada Hegerberg, Alex Morgan and Eugenie Le Sommer.

"As a defender every day you need to come ready to train," said Buchanan. "You can’t say ‘Oh this is another training (session)’ because you’ll get slaughtered in practice."

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