An­caster’s Tan­credi goes out in style

Canada’s soccer women win, 3-2, against Mex­ico in last game for trio of stars.

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

When the ref­eree blew the fi­nal whis­tle on the ca­reers of three Cana­dian women’s soccer icons, the mes­sage from Melissa Tan­credi, Rhian Wilkin­son and Marie-Eve Nault was clear — the torch is yours to carry from this point for­ward.

Canada picked up a 3-2 vic­tory over Mex­ico in an in­ter­na­tional friendly on Satur­day that cel­e­brated the na­tional team’s back-to­back Olympic bronze medals and also marked the end of the road for a trio that played 377 times for their coun­try.

“They mean ev­ery­thing, they give ev­ery­thing,” Cana­dian head coach John Herd­man said of Tan­credi, Wilkin­son and Nault. “Their whole adult life has been spent with this team. They don’t know any­thing dif­fer­ent ... and you only have to go into our lock­er­room to start to re­al­ize what they mean to each other.

“Each one of them has got some­thing in their iden­tity that Cana­di­ans can re­late to, whether it’s the grit of Tan­credi, the al­tru­is­tic­ness of Marie-Eve or just that ‘true north’ of Rhian.”

All three play­ers were joined by fam­ily mem­bers on the pitch for a cer­e­mony fol­low­ing the game, with Tan­credi’s grand­par­ents sur­pris­ing her af­ter fly­ing in from On­tario.

“So many emo­tions, but the first thing is proud that I’ve been able to call these three in­di­vid­u­als team­mates and friends,” said Cana­dian cap­tain Chris­tine Sin­clair. “We’ve lit­er­ally taken on the world to­gether and shared heart­breaks and had our dreams come true in Olympic Games. “It’s been quite the ride.” Tan­credi, 35, from An­caster, a pow­er­ful striker who scored 27 goals in 125 ap­pear­ances, started on the bench be­fore com­ing on as sub­sti­tute in the 76th minute with Canada cling­ing to a 3-2 lead.

A mem­ber of the na­tional team since 2004, Tan­credi scored twice in Canada’s fa­mous 2-1 vic­tory over Ger­many in Brazil, the coun­try’s first-ever win against the Euro­pean pow­er­house.

“It’s a bit over­whelm­ing,” said Tan­credi, who had tears in her eyes af­ter Satur­day’s game. “It was go­ing to be an emo­tional day.”

Ja­nine Beckie scored twice in the first half, while Deanne Rose had the other goal for Canada. Nancy An­to­nio and Kait­lyn John­son replied for the visi­tors.

Play­ers from the 2016 bronzemedal win­ning Cana­dian squad were hon­oured be­fore kick­off, while mem­bers of the 2012 team were given a rous­ing ova­tion at half­time.

Canada, ranked No. 4 in the world by FIFA, set a new women’s na­tional team record in 2016 with 15 wins in a cal­en­dar year.

A snow­storm blan­keted the Van­cou­ver area, but a crowd of 22,508 braved the in­clement weather.

JONATHAN HAY­WARD, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

An­caster’s Melissa Tan­credi, left, vies for con­trol of the ball with Mex­ico’s Christina Murillo dur­ing her fi­nal game with the na­tional team Satur­day. JOSHUA CLIP­PER­TON

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