Canada’s second match of women’s soccer tournament at the Pan American Games proved to be a tough learning experience for the young side that had trouble creating and finishing chances against a poised and more experienced Costa Rica.
Here are my three takeaways from the match, which ended in a 2-0 loss for Canada.
Young Reds show inexperience
Ashley Lawrence and Kadeisha Buchanan, two players who were on the World Cup squad this summer, were unavailable due to school commitments. Their absences showed how vital they are to this team. In addition, the Canadians had only five of their starters from their opening match, including goalkeeper and captain Stephanie Labbe through suspension.
Canada struggled to adjust to the lineup changes. On Costa Rica’s first goal Shirley Cruz was left unmarked and she headed home off a corner kick. Their second tally exposed the Canadian defenders after a diagonal ball was sent in to Karla Villalobos, who was in the clear to go 1v1 with backup goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan.
Canada made little use of the width of the field, something they excelled at on Sunday in its opening win against Ecuador. If you recall, fullbacks Shelina Zadorsky and Kinley McNicoll were strong down their respective sides in that first game. However, on this night Zadorsky suited up as centre back, which meant the left side was missing her presence, especially her crosses. The same could be said on the right, where McNicoll—who was on the bench versus Costa Rica—provided good service to the strikers against Ecuador.
With all that said, do remember this Costa Rican squad is recently coming off a FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance where they earned two draws and a loss in group-stage play. This isn’t an excuse for Canada’s loss; the reality is they faced a much more experienced squad.
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Canada’s best chances of the night came courtesy of their 16 year olds.
Gabrielle Carle stood out as the strongest striker in the opening 45 minutes. She tried to create as much as she could, even though she was often double-teamed and was forced to move down the congested middle of the pitch.
Marie Levasseur had a pair of opportunities in the second half, including a strike that looked destined for the back of the net in the 83rd minute, but hit the crossbar.
As stated earlier, Zadorsky’s playmaking was certainly missed on the left side. However, she did perform admirably as half of the centre-back pairing with Rebecca Quinn. They communicated well and provided support for the midfielders, who at times had to turn around and look for a back pass.
It’s crucial to have Zadorsky in the system going forward, especially during the senior team’s transitional period. Being reliable as both a centre-back and fullback bodes well for her future.
NOTES: As per the Canadian Soccer Association, Lawrence and Buchanan were unavailable due to school commitments. Both attend the West Virginia University. They’ll be back for Sunday’s game versus Brazil… This marks the first time Costa Rica has ever defeated Canada in women’s soccer… Centre back Rebecca Quinn wore the captain’s arm band for this match… With Ecuador facing Costa Rica next, Canada will have the tough task of needing to defeat Brazil in hopes of advancing to the knockout stage of the tournament.