Canada loses in women's soccer bronze medal match at Pan Ams
HAMILTON — Disappointment, but pride, were the emotions floating around Canada's locker-room on Friday night.
Both feelings were the product of Canada's 2-1 loss to Mexico in the Pan American women's soccer bronze-medal match.
"I think what the young players have shown tonight is a resilient second half, " said coach Daniel Worthington, who needed a moment to compose himself right after the loss. "I think for the second time in the tournament you've seen us outshoot and out-cross the opponent.
"I'm very proud of these young performers tonight."
Mexico scored twice in the first half and held on to defeat Canada.
Midfielder Jessie Fleming scored on a penalty kick awarded for a hand ball in the 88th minute to score Canada's first goal since opening the tournament last week against Ecuador.
Brazil takes on Colombia Saturday night in the final.
Down 2-0 after the first half, Canada came out pressing. But they couldn't convert possession into quality shots.
Canada has not been able to score despite showing great ball possession this week.
It was more of the same against Mexico. Canada controlled the ball for 59 per cent of the game. After being outshot 7-3 in the first half, the Canadians ended up outshooting the Mexicans 8-7.
"It's tough as a forward to go through the tournament and have a goal-scoring game in the first game and then not score the rest of the tournament," said Janine Beckie who hit the crossbar on a free kick against Mexico and came close on a couple other occasions. She'd scored twice against Ecuador to open the tournament. "I'll continue to be disappointed in the fact that I didn't put those away for my country.
"But it is a learning experience and this is one of the best experiences I've had at the senior level. So I'm really excited for the future."
She said the lack of scoring has been as much a problem of technique as it has luck.
"I think there's a lot of chances that have been unlucky, but there also have been chances that should have been in the back of the net."
International star defender Kadeisha Buchanan sat for the second half, replaced by Shelina Zadorsky, who scored twice for Canada in that first round-robin game.
Worthington said only that it was a "precaution" and that Buchanan, a standout on the Canadian team during the World Cup, was finishing a long, hard few months.
Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe made three outstanding saves in the first half before Mexico got on the board in the 29th minute. The goal came right after Beckie attempted a cross that was carried by the breeze and caused all kinds of trouble for Mexican goalkeeper Pamela Tajonar.
On the ensuing corner kick, Mexico cleared the ball to Monica Ocampo, who headed it to herself behind the Canadian defence and went in for the breakaway, chipping it over the charging Labbe with Canadian defender Kinley McNicoll in desperate pursuit.
Mexico made it 2-0 in the 37th minute with nifty passing in the box as Veronica Perez found a streaking Stephany Mayor deep in the box. Fleming got her foot on it with little room to spare, but it bounced off Mayor and into the goal.
The story for this young Canadian team — which boasts only four of its players from the recent World Cup team and is referred to by Worthington as a development team — has been its inability to score.
Canada opened its tournament with a 5-2 win over Ecuador in pool play, but followed with a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica and a 2-0 loss to Brazil. It qualified for the semifinals by finishing second in its pool on goal differential. And despite a spirited effort, especially in the second half, Canada went down to Colombia 1-0 in the semis.
"That is the full Mexican national team and our young girls, they took time just to get used to the rhythm, the speed, the type of style and tactics," said the national senior women's head coach John Herdman who was assisting Worthington. "That's part of learning. It's part of their journey. So I hope next time they play, they start a little bit sharper and a bit smarter. So coming out of it, the result was never in my mind. What was important was the performance."
The Canadian Press