In the end, a win was essential and Janine Beckie’s 65th-minute goal was all Canada needed.
Korea DPR pressed for a late equalizer but a Canadian team that’s progressed with each game at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014 is through to the quarter-finals, where they’ll take on Germany in Edmonton on Saturday after a 1-0 win.
Whitecaps FC Girls Elite graduate Emma Fletcher started and played 59 minutes in the victory.
“We knew that we were going to need a goal at some point. I couldn’t be prouder of the girls to get that result,” said head coach Andrew Olivieri, who earned the biggest result of his coaching career, and in his hometown, no less.
“We knew it wouldn’t be an easy match. North Korea were all but qualified going into it but we knew that they were going to be certain that they can play a very smart match which made it more difficult for us to win.”
Both the performance and the result marked a continued progression and evolution of this Canadian team in the tournament.
After the 1-0 defeat to Ghana and a first half against Finland where Canada was down two goals, Canada has stepped up and gotten better with each step they take on the field. Had they not been faced with this early adversity with the tournament, it’s quite possible Tuesday’s game at the Olympic Stadium would have gone much differently.
A win against a tough Korean team was one thing but with the pressure of a home tournament on top of that, it makes the result all the more impressive.
“We’ve been at our best when we’ve been able to run at defences and running behind them,” said Olivieri, who made the shrewd decision to introduce Amandine Pierre-Louis in front of her hometown. That decision paid dividends, as Pierre-Louis was involved in the build up to Beckie’s goal.
“Without that space it became difficult so we just had to find a different way. We needed some individual quality to make the difference and we’re lucky we got that.”