After 45 minutes, Canada’s women’s U-17 team had the defending European champions on the ropes. But in soccer, everything can change in a matter of minutes.
That’s what happened on Saturday as Canada scored twice in the first half before Germany roared back in the second half to salvage a 2-2 draw in what was a breathless opening game for both teams in Group B action at the 2014 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Liberia, Costa Rica.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite defenders Simmrin Dhaliwal and Rachel Jones both appeared for Canada in the match. Dhaliwal started and played 78 minutes, before getting replaced by Jones.
“We had the 2-0 lead and we gave that up but Germany are the European champions for a reason,” said head coach Bev Priestman. “I think playing this level of opposition for all three games, I think we really need to stay focused and do the things that we do well and trust our strategy.”
Canada frustrated the Germans over the opening 45 minutes and were deserved leaders through Jessie Fleming and Marie Levasseur’s goals in the third and 44th minutes, respectively.
Sarah Stratigakis won Canada their early free kick and Fleming perfectly placed her shot as it went over the German wall and into the corner to the right of German goalkeeper Vivien Brandt.
They doubled their advantage right on the stroke of halftime with Fleming getting the play started with another free kick. Brandt couldn’t hold Fleming’s free kick from the right side and after Nadya Gill got a first crack at the rebound, Levasseur was there to loop the ball over a German defender who was on the line.
But Germany came out fired up in the second half and had Nina Ehegoetz score in the 65th before Kim Fellhauer tied it by heading home a corner kick three minutes later.
“Germany came back and they had us on the ropes at times,” said Priestman. “Performance-wise, I’m very proud of the girls but I’m disappointed with the end result.”
Credit to Canada, however, as they rallied when they so easily could have capitulated for a third and in what was end-to-end action in the final 20 minutes, they came close to a winner several times.
It doesn’t get any easier for Canada as they take on Korea DPR on Wednesday, March 18 before wrapping up the group stage against Ghana on March 22.
Ghana beat Korea 2-0 to open Group B action on Saturday.