Though they may have fallen at the final hurdle at the CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship, there is a measure of consolation for Canada’s women’s U-17 team in that they have bigger battles to win next March.
After 90 scoreless minutes, Canada was beaten in penalty kicks by Mexico as Canada finished as runners-up for the second straight tournament while Mexico won their first ever CONCACAF championship at the women’s u-17 level. Both teams will qualify for the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.
“I’m really, really proud of the girls. If you look at what this team’s about, it’s about future national team players,” said Canadian head coach Bev Priestman. “I think losing on penalties it’s hard for the girls but ultimately, there have been some girls who stepped up in this tournament and are knocking on the door.”
Canada weathered the storm early as Mexico created a few chances but the Canadian defence bent but never broke and eventually started to press forward and created some chances on their own.
At the U-17 level, there is no extra time and after a second half where both teams had their chances, the two teams went straight to penalty kicks.
Mexico had beaten the United States on penalties in the semifinals and showed their experience as they converted their first three chances while Canada only converted one of their first three.
Despite the loss, the journey isn’t over for this young team as they’ll focus on taking on the world in Costa Rica at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2014 thanks to their 5-0 win over Jamaica in the semifinals.
“I think we have to keep up the great work we’ve done,” said Priestman. “I think defensively we’re always going to have to build on that. In possession, this team has a lot of strengths we just have to keep working on it.”
The fourth edition of the CONCACAF Women's Under-17 Championship ran from 30 October to 9 November and featured eight teams split into two groups of four. The top two teams of each group moved on to the knockout stage where the two final teams qualified for the fourth FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Costa Rica 2014 to be held from 15 March to 5 April.
In addition to Canada and Mexico, Costa Rica (host), China, Japan, Korea DPR, Nigeria, Venezuela, Colombia, and Paraguay have all qualified for the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2014. Six spots are still to be determined.
Of note, Canada received the tournament's Fair Play award, and saw a number of its players receive individual honours. Rylee Foster was named Best Goalkeeper, Marie-Mychèle Métivier got the Golden Boot as the competition's top scorer, and captain Jessie Fleming was named MVP. Foster, Fleming, Whitecaps FC Girls Elite defender Rachel Jones, Marie Levasseur, Blanca St-Georges, Emily Borgmann and Métivier all made the all-star team.