Never was a two-goal lead been more precarious as Canada’s U-17 women’s national team endured 40 minutes down a player to pull out the win they desperately needed to continue their 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup journey.
With Korea DPR picking up a 4-3 win over Germany in Group B’s other game, that meant a win was the only result that would get Canada through and thanks to an all for one performance, a narrow 2-1 over Ghana gets Canada that berth. Whitecaps FC Girls Elite defenders Simmrin Dhaliwal and Rachel Jones both played, with Dhaliwal starting and playing the full 90 minutes, while Jones came on in the second half and played 29 minutes.
Marie Levasseur’s second goal of the night came late in the first half and it came right when Canada needed it as Ghana was pressing hard for an equalizer. In the end, that was the winner as Bianca St Georges was sent off five minutes into the second half and Sandra Owusu Ansah raised Canadian heart rates even more with her 72nd minute goal.
After the goal, they felt the pressure a player can only feel at the World Cup. They passed with flying colours.
“It was a stressful bench but a very proud bench,” said a very relieved head coach Bev Priestman. “To play 40 and probably 45 minutes with the added time with 10-players, you’ve got to be proud of them.”
This will be the third time that a Canadian team is in the quarterfinals of the tournament. The first time came at the inaugural U-17 World Cup back in 2008 in New Zealand, while the second one was in Azerbaijan 2012.
This time, they had to get through the toughest group in the tournament, knocking out the runners-up and fourth-placed teams from two years ago in Korea DPR and Germany.
Canada will play its quarterfinal match against Venezuela this Thursday March 27.
“They’ve exceeded my expectations,” said Priestman. “I knew we could play the way we played but I think the resilience and the defensive work under massive bouts of pressure, they’ve done amazingly.”