Toronto Star

Canada goes fourth in heartbreak­er

Still second-best finish nation has ever had in a FIFA championsh­ip


MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY— Canada, victimized by two early goals, had to settle for fourth place at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup after a 2-1 loss to New Zealand on Saturday. The Canadian women found themselves down just 15 seconds after the opening kickoff, with New Zealand’s Grace Wisnewski erasing the tournament record of 22 seconds for fastest goal, set by Nigeria’s Soo Adekwagh in 2008.

Wisnewski also scored in the 13th minute as the Canadians dug themselves a deep hole.

Lara Kazandjian threw Canada a lifeline in the 64th minute with a sweet left-footed strike from outside the penalty box after New Zealand failed to clear its lines.

Canada kept pressing for the equalizer but New Zealand held tight through five minutes of extra time.

Still the fourth-place finish was Canada’s best ever at the U-17 world championsh­ip. Canada’s previous best was seventh in 2008 and 2012. And it ranks as Canada’s second-best showing at a FIFA championsh­ip, matching the fourth place that U-17 coach Rhian Wilkinson was part of as a player at the 2003 Women’s World Cup.

The only Canadian team to do better is the 2002 squad, featuring a 19-year-old Christine Sinclair, that finished runner-up to the U.S. at the U-19 Women’s World Championsh­ip.

“Sometimes the games don’t go your way and we lost a heartbreak­er today,” said Wilkinson. “But they pushed, they gave everything they had. I’m extremely proud of them today.”

New Zealand also finished a record high, having previously never made it past the U-17 group phase.

Spain beat Mexico 2-1 in the championsh­ip game later Sat- urday at Estadio Charrua. Spain joins France, Japan, South Korea and North Korea (twice) on the list of under-17 world champions.

Marie-Soleil Beaudoin became the first Canadian to referee a U-17 Women's World Cup final and the third to take charge of a FIFA competitio­n final after Sonia Denoncourt and Carol Ann Chenard.

Canada had 62 per cent of the possession and outshot New Zealand 22-9 but only had a 3-2 edge in shots on target. The Canadians had 10 corners to New Zealand’s two.

“Possession is a stat. It doesn’t tell the story,” said Wilkinson.

“They’ll hurt tonight but they should be very proud of themselves,” she added.

Disaster struck just five passes from the kickoff when Canadian defender Maya Antoine, looking to escape the New Zealand press, sent a back pass from within the penalty box to goalkeeper Anna Karpenko.

Karpenko’s first touch was a little heavy, allowing striker Maggie Jenkins to challenge. The ball squibbed away to Wisnewski, who beat a desperate lunging challenge from Jade Rose to knock the ball in from point-blank range.

New Zealand doubled its lead in the 13th minute on a beautiful goal that started from a poor Karpenenko kick.

At the other end, Canada captain Jordyn Huitema was dangerous on the ball but had little support early. She had a chance in the 22nd minute but Leat beat her to a bouncing ball sent in from distance.

Caitlin Shaw shot just wide in the 68th minute as the Canadians turned up the pressure. Jayde Riviere mis-hit her shot in the 72nd minute, making for an easy Leat save. Leat then just beat Huitema to the ball in the 83rd minute after a long Karpenko goalkick.

 ?? MIGUEL ROJO GETTY IMAGES ?? Canada’s Jessica de Filippo, centre, goes up for the ball between New Zealand’s Mackenzie Barry and Hannah Mackay-Wright.
MIGUEL ROJO GETTY IMAGES Canada’s Jessica de Filippo, centre, goes up for the ball between New Zealand’s Mackenzie Barry and Hannah Mackay-Wright.

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