A year ago, Ashley Lawrence was fully entrenched in Canadian youth camp, preparing to face other internationals in her age group at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Today, she’s a key contributor to the senior team, with two FIFA Women’s World Cup matches under her belt and a third on the horizon, Monday’s battle with the Netherlands in Montreal.
The midfielder has proven to be a standout in Canada’s games thus far. She’s been creative, strong on the ball and extremely dependable. Look no further than the time she’s spent on the pitch, which shows two 90 minutes efforts and four shots with two on goal.
“I want to be a lethal attacker in that midfield, controlling and dominating it,” she told Sportsnet after Thursday’s 0-0 draw versus New Zealand. “As much as I want to set up, I want to get a goal myself.”
And against the Football Ferns, she was close to scoring for the first time at the senior level. Lawrence had a one-on-one opportunity, where she found herself barreling down the middle, looking straight at goalkeeper Erin Nayler. Although she didn’t get as much power on the shot as she wanted, it was one of Canada’s best offensive chances.
“Oh my God. So many things just went through my mind,” she said of the play. “I thought of that early shot or should I continue to run, but just so many learnings from the match that I’m going to take into the next game. If I have the opportunity again, yeah, I might just take it in a bit more and go one-on-one with the keeper.”
Coach John Herdman thinks Lawrence has handled the pressure of this World Cup very well.
“She was really stepping up and physically managed it,” he said of her performance in the second game. “I thought she controlled the tempo.”
Going into the tournament, the Toronto native had just 18 caps (4 starts) to her name. However, she’s never felt overwhelmed at the magnitude of the matches or her opponents.
“We came into the tournament well prepared,” the 20-year-old explained. “Our coaches do the scouting and we’ve looked at so much footage. We’ve been very prepared and it’s definitely what we anticipated.”
Looking ahead to Monday’s meeting versus the Netherlands, Lawrence and her fellow teammates aren’t planning on changing much.
“I think keeping that same game plan that’s been working for us,” she said. “We just haven’t been able to bury our chances. We’ve put on a great performance and we just need to keep that going. We don’t need to change anything because it’s been working for us well.”