'Caps for Canada: Candace Chapman

Internal competition hardens Canadian centre-back

Candace Chapman Birgit Prinz

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Getty Images

Later this month, BC Place will be host to the 2012 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament. For many players on the team, this won’t be the first time playing in front of fans in Vancouver, as the squad includes 14 former members of Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Over the next two weeks, whitecapsfc.com will be profiling each of these players as we get set to support our fantastic Canadian women!

Over the last several years, Candace Chapman has become one of Canada’s top defenders. But if you know who she has to defend on a daily basis, then there’s little wonder why.

Chapman has been facing top competition in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league, but before that she showed exceptional versatility during her collegiate career playing at the University of Notre Dame. Not only did she excel on the defensive side – being named BIG EAST conference Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2002 – she also thrilled as a forward, earning Third Team All-Big East honours during her senior season in 2004 after scoring 12 goals and adding 8 assists for an impressive 32 points.

She continued to play various positions following her time at Notre Dame, but it eventually became clear that she was most useful as a defender. Part of that process came while joining Whitecaps FC – though she was never able to play a match due to injury. Then in 2009, she made the jump to the newly-launched WPS.

Her first stop came with Boston Breakers. The next year she joined FC Gold Pride, and that’s when her defensive skills really sharpened. They had to, she had no choice. The team boasted two of the absolute best women’s strikers in the world: the ever-dangerous Brazilian Marta and Canada’s very own superwoman Christine Sinclair.

Chapman went on to win the WPS championship with FC Gold Pride that year - Marta led the league with 20 goals - but the team folded in the off-season. She then joined the expansion Western New York Flash, but the Ajax, Ontario, native needed not worry about losing her defensive edge, as Sinclair and Marta also joined Western New York for the 2011 season. The Flash went on to take the 2011 WPS championship - Marta and Sinclair tied for the league lead with 10 goals apiece.

“It is great being able to play against some of the best players in the world every week,” Chapman told the Canadian Soccer Association in June. “My practices are sometimes harder than my games. If I am ready for them in practice, then I know I am good for the game.”

So as Chapman plays at centre-back for Canada this month to help her country get to the 2012 London Olympics, she’ll fear no striker. But that still won’t make practice any easier.

She can thank Sinclair for that.

For more details on how to purchase tickets, please visit the CanadaSoccer.com CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying tournament information page.