Canada won the opening match at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico on Tuesday with a 3-1 result over Costa Rica. The Canucks received goals from strikers Christina Julien, Christine Sinclair and substitute Amélia Pietrangelo. Costa Rica's lone goal was scored by captain Shirley Cruz on a penalty in the first half.
Playing on artificial turf, Canada took some time to get adjusted to the slick playing surface. Opponent Costa Rica opened with a 4-4-1-1 formation, with five players often held in front of their back four.
"It was one of those games in which the players were getting used to the conditions," said Herdman. "Once our back four settled in, then the game opened up for us in the midfield."
In the 27th minute, a defensive miscue forced fullback Lauren Sesselmann to run back and cover a sudden breakaway from Raquel Rodríguez Cedeño. Sesselmann stopped Rodríguez, but did so in a way that prompted referee Shane Da Silva to call a penalty. Costa Rica captain Shirley Cruz converted the penalty for a 1-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later, Julien equalized for Canada. From a Canadian free kick, the ball was moved up to Kelly Parker who then fired on goal. Julien redirected the ball on target for a 1-1 scoreline.
In the second half, Sinclair made it 2-1 after a nice build-up through the Canadian midfield. After a handful of passes, Kaylyn Kyle chipped it up to Sinclair who burst around the Costa Rica back four and put the ball in the back of the net.
"It was that determination to win the ball," said coach John Herdman of Sinclair's goal. "She just took it back in behind the back four and she finished."
Late in the match, Pietrangelo scored her first international goal after Sinclair and Parker played with the ball on the left side. Parker then crossed it to Pietrangelo who calmly scored from a tight angle. The goal in the 82nd minute gave Canada a definitive 3-1 lead.
Herdman recorded his first victory for Canada. Overall, the Canadian team's 2011 record is 11 wins, two draws and six losses. Captain Sinclair, who scored her 118th career international goal, was selected Herdman's Player of the Match.
Canada: Karina LeBlanc; Lauren Sesselmann (Melanie Booth 64’), Candace Chapman, Shannon Woeller, Rhian Wilkinson; Kelly Parker, Kaylyn Kyle (Amélia Pietrangelo 67'), Sophie Schmidt, Desiree Scott (Robyn Gayle 74'); Christine Sinclair, Christina Julien
Costa Rica: Yirlania Arroyo; Daniela Cruz, Wendy Acosta, Marianne Ugalde, Diana Sáenz; Mariela Campos, Shirley Cruz, Raquel Rodríguez Cedeño, Katherine Alvarado, Carolina Venegas, Lixy Rodríguez