In the inaugural International Soccer Federation (FIFA) Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada 12 years ago, the host country lost to the United States 1-0 in an exciting final decided in extra time.
Last Saturday, the neighbouring North American countries were knocked out in the quarter-finals in Toronto and Edmonton.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (Korea DPR) bounced the United States on penalty kicks at BMO Field while Canada lost 2-0 to 2010 champions Germany, who was the runner-up to the United States in the last tournament two years ago in Japan.
Despite the exit, national coach Andrew Olivieri was pleased with his team’s showing.
“I would hope that Germany would realize that Canada does have a bright future,” he said. “There are some good players coming through. We had some young players on the pitch today that performed just as well as the good German squad.”
One of the players that impressed Olivieri was Ohio State striker Nichelle Prince who suffered a left thigh injury in the quarter-final and was replaced in the 16th minute with the game tied at nil-all.
“We have all seen how big she’s been for us with the energy and the goal threat that she brings, so it was difficult, but it was something we had to move on with,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that three or four minutes into a game, one of your players can’t go anymore.”
After a disappointing 1-0 loss to Ghana in the opener, the Canadians bounced back with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Finland at BMO Field.
Down 2-0 at half-time, Canada scored twice in the first five minutes in the second-half and Prince netted the winning goal 10 minutes from the end.
A second half-substitute in the Ghana contest, Prince also had a strong match against Korea DPR in the final group contest in Montreal. Her assist, which led to Janine Beckie’s 65th minute goal, propelled Canada into the quarter-finals.
“We knew it wouldn’t be an easy match,” said Olivieri. “North Korea was all but qualified going into it, but we knew that they were going to be certain that they can play a very smart match which made it more difficult for us to win.”
Playing at home provided an opportunity for the Canadians to showcase their skills and talent in front of family members.
“Nichelle had a good tournament and she felt as if she let the team down when she had to leave the field early in the quarter-final against Germany,” said her father, Fabian Prince, who attended Canada’s four matches in Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton with other family members. “I was excited to see her play on a big stage and she acquitted herself very well. I am proud of her.”
Prince joined her Ohio State teammates in North Carolina last Sunday. The team plays its regular season opener tomorrow against Duke at Chapel Hill.