A former Pickering High School track athlete is among a crop of new young players infused in the Canadian women’s soccer squad for an upcoming tournament in China.
Nichelle Prince, a key member of the Durham school track and field championship teams before committing to soccer nearly 18 months ago, is among seven young players who are yet to make their international mark with the senior team.
The Canadians are in China for the Yongchuan tournament that runs from January 12 to 16.
National coach, John Herdman, said the China tournament represents the start of a new campaign leading to the Women’s World Cup in Canada in 2015.
“It’s the start of a new journey and it is time for new players who want to be part of that journey,” he said. “We are trying to achieve a style of play and performance that the country can really enjoy. We have identified some gaps in our performances and we need to begin exploring the changes that will allow us to close those gaps.”
Prince, whose father Fabian represented Kingston College in Jamaica’s high school track and field championship (CHAMPS) in 1976 and 1978, is committed to Ohio State University which was home to fellow Canadian teammate, Tiffany Lawrence, who graduated last year.
Lawrence who, like Prince, was called to the national women’s camp last month, left Ohio State as the Buckeyes’ all-time leading goal scorer with 40 while tallying 96 points, which is also a school record. She led the university with 21 goals last season, shattering the previous mark of 13.
The group of new players also includes midfielder Christabel Oduro who is at the University of Memphis.
Veteran goalkeeper, Karina LeBlanc, who was born in Atlanta to a Dominican father and Jamaican mother and defender, Robyn Gayle, who made her senior team national debut seven years ago, represent the mix of established players in the squad.
Canada plays host country China on Saturday before taking on the Korea Republic two days later on Monday and Norway on January 16.
This is Canada’s fourth appearance in the tournament in which it was the runner-up two years ago.
By RON FANFAIR