Before the game, Canadian coach Andrew Olivieri said his team’s game against Finland in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup was “do or die.” The Canadians proved there is life in them yet with a resilient 3-2 victory over the blue and white clad Finns at Toronto’s National Soccer Stadium tonight.
Having lost to Ghana 1-0 just days prior, Canada couldn’t afford to miss out on any more points if they planned to continue competing in the tournament. Finland was in a similar boat having previously lost to Korea DPR 2-1.
At the start of the second half, Canada trailed a 2-0 double to Finland’s Juliette Kempii who scored in the 3rd and 21st minute. Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan certainly wouldn’t have been expected to admit responsibility for Kempii’s header off a crossbar rebound or low-driven strike after an unerring first touch.
Canada retained 60% ball possession in the first half, but they were unable to get past Nordic goaltender Vera Varis who repeatedly denied Jessie Fleming’s intelligent attempts at goal. Thanks to two key substitutions to start the second half, Janine Beckie and Valerie Sanderson, the final 45 minutes were a different story.
In the 48th minute Beckie gave the host nation a lifeline by putting away Canada’s first goal of the tournament with a header off a Nichelle Prince cross (and some help from the goal post and a Finnish defender). Sanderson followed suit two minutes later by connecting to a spot-on cross cut back from the byline, again from Prince.
Prince did well to prove herself in her second-half cameo against Ghana, and Olivieri’s decision to give her a permanent spot as striker in the Finland match was no doubt appreciated by most of the 16,503 attendees. After her two assists, Prince tapped in a rebound in the 80th minute created from a brilliant effort by Beckie that was spilled by Varis.
All three goals in the second half went unanswered by the Finns, allowing the Canadians to breathe new life into their World Cup campaign. Prince was named Live Your Goals Player of the Match, and Finland left the game the same way they started it: having yet to win a match in a U-20 tournament.
Although only one country has ever won the U-20 event on home soil (Germany in 2010), the dream remains alive for Canada this year. First, however, they face Korea DPR, who is undefeated in group play and eager to advance past the quarterfinals for the first time in three tournaments.
Both teams will play this coming Tuesday, August 12. Finland is set to face Ghana in Moncton, New Brunswick, and Canada will play Korea DPR in Montreal, Quebec.
FIN – Juliette Kempii – 3’
FIN – Juliette Kempii – 21’
CAN – Janine Beckie – 48’
CAN – Valerie Sanderson – 50’
CAN – Nichelle Prince – 80’
CAN –Kadeisha Buchanan (caution, 68′)
CAN – Janine Beckie (caution, 84′)
CAN: 1-Kailen Sheridan, 2-Sura Yekka (12-Victoria Pickett, 74′), 3-Kinley McNicoll (captain), 4-Kylie Davis (19-Valerie Sanderson, 46′), 5-Kadeisha Buchanan, 6-Rebecca Quinn, 7-Ashley Campbell (11-Janine Beckie, 46’), 8-Jessie Fleming, 9-Nichelle Prince, 10-Ashley Lawrence, 20-Emma Fletcher
Subs Not Used: 18-Marie-Joelle Vandal, 21-Rylee Foster, 13-Lyndsay Agnew, 14-Vanessa Gregoire, 15-Jordane Carvery, 16-Sarah Kinzner, 17-Amandine Pierre-Louis
Head Coach: Andrew Olivieri
FIN: 1-Vera Varis, 2- Tia Halinen, 3-Emma Koivisto, 5-Katarina Naumanen, 6-Sini Laaksonen, 8-Emilia Iskanius (captain), 9-Juliette Kemppi , 10-Nora Heroum, 11-Adelina Engman, 15-Natalia Kuikka (18-Julia Tunturi, 69′), 20-Erika Winter (17-Sanni Franssi Fr, S 83’)
Subs not used: 12-Krista Moisio, 12-Pauliina Tahtinen, 4-Tiia Peltonen, 7-Iina Salmi, 13-Jenny Danielsson, 14-Paula Auvinen, 16-Ria Oling 19-Tia-Maria Jaakonsaari
Head Coach: Marianne Miettinen