Canada U-17 women reach semifinals


Whitecaps FC & CONCACAF.com

Canada completed the semifinal field for the CONCACAF U-17 Women's Championship following a 2-1 victory over Panama in Group A action on Saturday afternoon.

Haisha Cantave and Diamond Simpson scored first-half goals for Bryan Rosenfeld's side at the Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto in Alajuela, Costa Rica. On Monday, Canada will play fellow semifinal qualifiers Mexico for the Group A title. Saturday's result eliminated Panama, as their second loss relegated the Central Americans to a remaining meaningless group match against Jamaica on Monday. The Jamaicans lost 3-0 to Mexico earlier on Saturday for their second defeat of the tournament.

The United States and hosts Costa Rica claimed their semifinal berths from Group B on Friday and will face off Sunday for seeding. The semifinals will be played Thursday, with the championship and third-place matches set for next Saturday, March 20.

The weekend victory, however, could prove costly for Canada after they lost Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Girls Prospects defender Katherine Caverly in the 20th minute to what appeared to be a twisted knee. Kyle Davis also was replaced in the 56th minute, coming off for Sabrina Hemond and looking to be in pain. The Canadian starting XI on Saturday also included Whitecaps U-18 Girls Prospects midfielder Nicole Setterlund as team captain.

Canada started quickly, creating close-range opportunities for both Yazmin Ongtengco-Hintzen and Nour Ghoneim in the first eight minutes. Ongtengco-Hintzen volleyed a cross from Ghoneim into Panama goalkeeper Anyyuri Montenegro's arms in the third minute, while Ghoneim had her turn five minutes later, pivoting and putting a left-footed shot that Montenegro blocked at the edge of the goal box.

The North Americans eventually converted in the ninth minute. Standing in her own half of the center circle, Ghoneim turned and sent a ball behind the Panamanian backline down the left that Cantave reached at the edge of the box. She took one touch with her right foot and sent an easy roller past Montenegro, who had come well off her goal line to try and close the angle.

Simpson doubled Canada's lead in the 37th minute. Panama's Yerenis de Leon tried to clear a bouncing ball just outside the area, but the attempt struck Simpson in the chest, dropped toward the goal and Simpson chased before knocking the ball goalward from the edge of the Panama box. Montenegro was very slow to react, allowing the ball to roll inside her right post for 2-0.

Panama had little possession and few chances. One of their best opportunities fell to Natalia Mills, who sent a 30-meter free kick over the crossbar in the 17th minute.

The Panamanians finally scored on a blunder by Canadian goalkeeper Sabria D'Angelo in the 88th minute. Astrid Diaz's corner kick slipped through D'Angelo's hands and dropped in front of Libany Alveo, who headed in from the edge of the six-yard box to complete the 2-1 scoreline.