U-20 women win CONCACAF final - The Province

Marc Weber

Canada 1 U.S. 0. Team overcomes adversity to win top zone seeding 

Canada's under-20 women's soccer team boosted its confidence and bettered its World Cup draw with a 1-0 victory over the U.S. to claim the CONCACAF championship in Puebla, Mexico on Saturday.

The Canadian side, which had already qualified for the 2008 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Chile with a 2-1 semifinal win over host Mexico on Wednesday, went ahead on a late first-half strike by Karla Schacher and withstood an American barrage in the final 45 minutes. Erin McNulty, who like Schacher and all but one of the team members doubles as a player for the W-League's Vancouver Whitecaps, earned the shutout.

"It's an amazing day," said U-20 and Caps coach Bob Birarda. "Any time you beat the U.S. it's a great feeling, but to win a CONCACAF championship and to beat the U.S. is special."

So was Wednesday, the day they beat Mexico to qualify for the Nov. 19-Dec. 7 World Cup, though for different reasons. Almost the entire team was throwing up or stricken with diarrhea in the days leading up to the match, and within hours of game time there were still many players struggling with sickness.

"We had to ask for extra toilet paper in the dressing room and we had a player throw up right before kick off," said Birarda. "I think eight or nine starters had been hit with some sort of stomach issues, so qualifying was a really, really big relief."

© The Vancouver Province 2008