Bev Priestman‘s side went into their doubleheader against Mexico looking to end the year on a high and hopefully finish the golden year on a 15 game unbeaten run. It wouldn’t quite work out that way in Mexico City but there were still plenty of positives to take and lots of great football played by the Canadians.
Canada started their doubleheader with Mexico with a surprising 2-1 defeat at Mexico City’s Centro de Alto Rendimiento. Canada went into the game on the back of five wins in a row in the fixture and 14 games in total unbeaten against Mexico and they came close early on to breaking the deadlock. Just eight minutes in, Vanessa Gilles connected with the ball from a corner and her header went just wide of the Mexican goal.
Just 10 minutes later, however, Mexico worked the ball upfield quickly on the counter-attack and the ball was played into the path of Diana García but before she could reach the ball, she was brought down by Gilles in the box resulting in a penalty for the home side. Striker Stephany Mayor stepped up to the spot and slotted in the penalty passed Canada keeper Kailen Sheridan making it 1-0 Mexico after 19 minutes. Canada would come close to equalizing 37 minutes in, after good wing play between Allysha Chapman and Julia Grosso, Chapman found herself in the box and put a dangerous ball across the face of the goal that unfortunately no one in a Canadian jersey could connect with. Canada immediately recycled the play and kept up the pressure with a cross into the box but Christine Sinclair’s header was easily saved by Itzel González.
Canada went into the second half hoping to get back into the game but the task was made that much more difficult with just 15 minutes to go. A Mexican free-kick from Lizbeth Ovalle caused havoc in the Canadian penalty area that forced Sheridan to tip the ball onto the bar and the first to react was Alicia Cervantes who headed the ball over the line to score her first international goal and sparking a full team celebration for La Tri.
Canada made sure they wouldn’t go down without a fight, with 10 minutes left, Jordyn Huitema played a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Cloé Lacasse but González stood stall to deny Lacasse a goal on her Canada debut. Canada would finally put the ball past González on the 86th minute, with a good play between Lacasse and Deanne Rose set up the opportunity for Quinn to cross in a dangerous ball from the 18-yard line towards Jessie Fleming and from the ensuing header Jordyn Huitema was able to pounce on the rebound to volley the ball into the bottom left corner giving González no chance and making it 2-1 Mexico.
Canada pushed on for an equalizer, on the 89th minute, Canada worked the ball out from their own penalty box towards midfield where Sophie Schmidt played a brilliant defence-splitting pass into the path of Rose out wide who played the ball across goal towards Lacasse but she, unfortunately, couldn’t keep her shot down.
There was still time for more drama in added time, Sura Yekka pressured the ball and won it back for Canada giving it to Rose who managed to find Fleming on the edge of the box, the ball was worked to Schmidt and then to the path of Chapman who found Schmidt again with space in the box but González was the hero for Mexico saving Schmidt’s effort and when she grabbed ahold of a follow-up header from Huitema, Mexico knew that had done enough to hold on.
It was a good win for Mexico who after a six-game streak without a win had now won three in a row. Canada can be happy too as the Olympic champions showed their quality at times, especially in the second half. Les Rouges were now looking to win the following up game on Tuesday to finish a historic year on a high.
Canada’s woman brought the curtain down on a great year for Canadian soccer with an entertaining 0-0 draw with Mexico at the Estadio Azul. Nichelle Prince found herself in the right place to intercept a Nancy Antonio pass and her edge of the box strike would be a good early warning shot from Canada just 17 minutes in. From Mexican goalkeeper, Emily Alvarado‘s ensuing kick out, Canada won the loose ball in midfield and Jessie Fleming played a looping ball over the top of the Mexican defence for Deanne Rose who did the hard part taking the ball past the onrushing Alvarado, but unfortunately, with the goal at her mercy, Rose couldn’t convert as her shot hit off the post.
It was a big chance in the match that Rose would probably produce a goal from nine times out of 10. Canada’s next big chance of the half came 35 minutes in when Desiree Scott played through Prince who drove down the sideline and her cross into the box could only be parried by Alvarado into the path of Canadian playmaker Christine Sinclair but she was denied a goal by a block from a Mexican defender as the first half ended goalless.
Mexico’s best chance of the game at this point came five minutes into the second half when winger Maria Sánchez went on a direct run towards the Canadian goal from out on the left and her shot across the goal went just wide. The next good chance for Canada came 75 minutes into the game, substitute Cloe Lacasse played through fellow sub, Jordyn Huitema who got her shot off but was denied a second goal in two games by a smart save from Alvarado.
Just barely a minute later, Canada was caught cold at the back when Canada keeper Kailen Sheridan accidentally passed the ball straight to a Mexican forward, but Sheridan made up for her error with a strong one on one save to keep the score at 0-0. Canada would get one more big chance to win the game with just six minutes left. Chloe Lacasse was played through on goal and rather than squaring the ball to Jordyn Huitema for a tap-in, she had the confidence to go it alone but again Alvarado was up to the task.
The game would go on to finish 0-0 leaving the WNT with a record of seven wins, eight draws and three losses on the year, three of those draws would be won by Canada in either extra time or penalties including the famous Olympic Gold medal win against Sweden.
Despite the disappointment of not winning either game, it has been a special year for Canada’s woman’s team and they’ll hope they can keep up the soccer feel-good factor that’s sweeping the nation in 2022.