The Canadians celebrate one of their goals against Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Canada Soccer)
EDINBURG, Texas — The United States will face Mexico for a spot in this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
Canada defeated the Mexicans in the final Group B match, 2-0, of the Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship to win the group on Tuesday night.
The Maple Leafs (3-0-0) finished atop the group and will face Costa Rica, the Group A runners-up. Mexicom (2-1-0) will meet the USA in Carson, Calif.
Christine Sinclair and Shelina Zadorsky scored for Canada.
Sinclair recorded the 186th goal of her career. With goals scored in 131 international “A” matches, it also marked the 100th time that Canada won with Sinclair as one of the goalscorers.
“I think it’s a resilient team, we knew today coming out that we were going to have a little more adversity against Mexico, we knew that they were going to throw a little more at us and we were ready,” Canada goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé said. “It doesn’t matter who steps in there, we had different people in the back line, different people in midfield, it doesn’t matter who’s in there, this team is resiliant and they push through this adversity.”
Zadorsky noted that the team’s performance to date and the upcoming Costa Rica Semi-final match meant everything.
“That’s why we’re here. We came here to get nine points in the group stage, and we now want to qualify and we want to win the tournament, she said. “We set the bar high for ourselves, and we know the competition keeps getting harder and harder, so we have to reflect and keep improving our performances.”
Canada opened the scoring in the 26th minute after a give-and-go combination down the right wing from Jayde Riviere to Janine Beckie to Riviere. In the box, Riviere centered a pass to Sinclair, who one-timed her right-footed shot past goalkeeper Emily Alvarado.
In first-half stoppage time, Zadorsky made it 2-0 for Canada with a left-footed shot that beat both defenders and goalkeeper alike. This time, it was a Janine Beckie corner kick that drifted to Kadeisha Buchanan at the back post. Buchanan controlled the kick and played it to Zadorsky at the top of the box and she fired her first-time low shot through the crowd of players.
“The Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament is a big event and we need to be ready,” Canada head coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller said. “The biggest multi-sport event in the world is only a few months away and we want to deliver a massive performance in Japan, but to do that we need to qualify. We need to focus on our performance in these matches to get there.”