An­other Cana­dian goalie goes down ahead of Rio

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - SPORTS - By Neil David­son

TORONTO — The Cana­dian women’s soc­cer team has been hit with an­other in­jury at goalkeeper in ad­vance of the Olympics.

Sab­rina D’An­gelo, who fig­ured to be Stephanie Labbe’s backup in Rio, frac­tured her left wrist last week with the Western New York Flash of the Na­tional Women’s Soc­cer League. Canada lost No. 1 keeper Erin McLeod in March when she in­jured her an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment play­ing for her Swedish club team.

Coach John Herd­man has Labbe and 20-year-old Kailen Sheri­dan avail­able for a pair of up­com­ing friendlies against Brazil in Toronto and Ot­tawa.

Labbe is an ex­pe­ri­enced keeper who has won 28 caps since mak­ing her na­tional team de­but in 2008. With McLeod and the now-re­tired Ka­rina LeBlanc ahead of her, the 29-year-old from Stony Plain, Alta., has had to wait her turn to be No. 1.

With McLeod out long-term, Herd­man is build­ing around Labbe at the back, but the con­cern now is for who steps in if she goes down.

The 23-year-old D’An­gelo has two caps while Sheri­dan, who plays for Clem­son Univer­sity, has one with the se­nior squad. For last sum­mer’s World Cup, Herd­man had a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence in goal with McLeod and LeBlanc having more than 200 caps be­tween them.

“We’re in a dif­fer­ent place,” Herd­man said of his goal­keep­ing sit­u­a­tion.

“While we’re not blessed at the minute with ex­pe­ri­ence, I think we’re blessed with that youth­ful­ness and the courage and en­ergy of some­one that re­ally has noth­ing to fear and wants to

“Ka­rina’s go­ing on a com­pletely dif­fer­ent plain now, which is fan­tas­tic,” he said of LeBlanc, who has turned to the me­dia and TV since re­turn­ing af­ter the World Cup.

He also said he did not think D’An­gelo’s in­jury was se­vere enough he would have to re­sort to re­tired play­ers.

“Maybe these young kids are just ready to be given their shot,” Herd­man told a me­dia con­fer­ence call Mon­day. “I think we’ll look for­ward rather before we look back as a phi­los­o­phy.”

Canada, ranked 10th in the world, hosts No. 8 Brazil at Toronto’s BMO Field Satur­day and Ot­tawa’s TD Place June 7.

Cap­tain Christine Sin­clair is one of five play­ers over 30 on the 20-woman squad, which looks to be the tem­plate Herd­man will work on in choos­ing his Olympic ros­ter. The oth­ers are de­fend­ers Rhian Wilkin­son and Josee Be­langer, mid­fielder Diana Mathe­son, and for­ward Melissa Tan­credi.

The 32-year-old Sin­clair has been deal­ing with left Achilles ten­dini­tis and a calf is­sue, some­thing both Canada and her club side in Port­land are man­ag­ing. Sin­clair played 45 minutes in Port­land’s 0-0 tie with Seat­tle Sun­day.

The Cana­dian ros­ter has 11 play­ers 23 and younger in­clud­ing teenagers Jessie Flem­ing (18), Deanne Rose (17), and Gabrielle Carle (17). The av­er­age age of the team is 25.2. Canada’s all-time record against the South Amer­i­cans is 5-6-5 since 1996. The Cana­di­ans won the last meet­ing, 2-1 in the Al­garve Cup final in March.

Brazil won three of the pre­vi­ous four, with one score­less tie. Three of those con­tests were in Brazil. take an op­por­tu­nity,” he added.

Labbe, who was also at the World Cup, took over from an in­jured McLeod in the final of the CON­CA­CAF Olympic qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment in Hous­ton ear­lier this year. And she helped Canada to vic­tory at the Al­garve Cup in Por­tu­gal.

Labbe is also tied for the NWSL lead in shutouts this sea­son with four in six games for the Washington Spirit.

There was no im­me­di­ate word Mon­day on when D’An­gelo may be fit to play. While in­jured, she is still on the Cana­dian ros­ter.

Asked if he had tried to lure LeBlanc out of retirement, Herd­man con­ceded “We have gone through those thought pro­cesses.

PE TER POWER / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

Canada will be re­ly­ing heav­ily on goal­tender Stephanie Labbe at the Olympics.

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