CARSON, Calif. — Canada will have an opportunity to win a third consecutive Olympic medal this summer.
The Maple Leafs booked a spot in Tokyo by recording a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica at the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship on Friday night.
Jordyn Huitema scored the lone goal in semifinal win, her seventh goal of the tournament. Canada, which qualified for its fourth consecutive Concacaf Olympic final, will play the winner of the U.S.-Mexico semifinal in the championship game on Sunday.
The Canadians are one of only five nations in the world to qualify for each of three previous women’s Olympic tournaments and the only nation to reach the podium at both London 2012 and Rio 2016, earning bronze medals.
“Costa Rica made it difficult, but we dominated, we finally got one, and we were so solid defensively that we weren’t going to give one up after that,” Canadian captain Christine Sinclair said. “Going to the Olympic Games never gets old and every one brings a different story and different experience. We can now look forward to getting back on that podium.”
Huitema was just as happy.
“We have so many skillful players that we are able to rotate our starting players and keep everyone fresh, so come game time everyone is able to really perform and come out at 100 percent,” she said. “I think it really showed tonight how fresh, versatile and hungry our team was as we just pushed until that last whistle.”
In the first half, Canada held the edge in possession and had some of its best pressure midway through the period. In the 23rd minute, an Allysha Chapman cross from the left flank got a touch back from Janine Beckie in the middle, but Costa Rica cleared. Late in the half, Huitema created a dangerous cross from the left that passed behind three Canadian attackers. Just before the whistle, Beckie broke through and fired a low shot on goal, but goalkeeper Noelia Bermúdez saved it.
In the 58th minute, Huitema had a good run into the box, but her shot was blocked by a defender. Three minutes later, a Chapman cross from the left was knocked just wide of the back post by Beckie. Another two minutes later, Sinclair won the ball deep in the box and centered a pass, but the chance was cleared by Stephanie Blanco.
In the 67th minute, Beckie’s cross from inside the box was just tipped away by Bermúdez.
The breakthrough finally came in the 72nd minute after possession by Ashley Lawrence on the right wing. Lawrence played the ball to Beckie, who sent it forward for Rose inside the box; Rose crossed for Huitema, who struck her first shot off the post, but knocked in the rebound with her right foot.
The Canadians shut things down with all 10 outfield players chipping in on the defense as goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé recorded the clean sheet. In one final attacking chance in added time, Sinclair fed Beckie who quickly chipped an out-of-position Bermúdez, but the ball sailed over the crossbar.
Before kickoff, Sinclair was honored by Concacaf for setting the world’s all-time international goalscoring record. Concacaf president Victor Montagliani presented both the record-breaking game ball and a framed, commemorative “Sinclair 185” jersey.