VANCOUVER, BC – In front of 21,217 boisterous fans at Vancouver’s BC Place, Canada’s women’s national team played Mexico to a spirited scoreless draw in a women’s international friendly on Sunday afternoon.
The last time these two teams met on this surface, Canada beat the Mexicans to book a spot in the London Olympics, but this time out Mexico pressured Canada early in what was a very evenly-matched affair.
Despite an admittedly lackluster performance against Mexico, there were still reasons to be pleased.
When Rhian Wilkinson went down with an injury in the first half, 16-year-old Sura Yekka was called upon for her second cap after making her debut in Edmonton against Korea Republic last month.
Yekka admitted to being nervous in the game in Edmonton but if she was feeling the nerves in Vancouver, she certainly wasn’t showing it.
“She was a real bright spot,” Canada head coach John Herdman said in his post-match press conference. “If anything she was pretty much showing the way in terms of a real positive attitude in terms of taking it to Mexico. I think a couple of players fed of her energy. I think that was real bright spark.”
Herdman speaks to media at BC Place following the match
For most of his team’s performance, Herdman was blunt in his assessment as the team builds towards the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015.
Canada had plenty of chances to break the deadlock but couldn’t find the opening. While the first half was relatively even with both teams coming close to the winning goal, Canada poured on the pressure in the second half.
“We had some moments. We’re progressing,” Herdman said. “At times we were stringing 16 or 17 passes together and finishing with a cross or a shot so I’ll take that at his stage but it’s still a long way off 2015.”
Former Whitecaps FC women’s striker Christine Sinclair had the first chance for Canada six minutes into the game. Diana Matheson passed from the right side to Sinclair near the edge of the 18-yard box, but she didn’t get much power behind the shot and Mexican goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago made the easy save.
After Canada fired the first warning shot, Mexico responded in the 10th minute with one of their own through Guadalupe Worbis. Worbis was a last-second inclusion in the Mexican lineup but she was sharp early getting to a ball in the Canadian penalty area. Goalkeeper Erin McLeod was quick across to stop the shot.
In the 13th minute, Canada had the ball in the net through Brittany Baxter but it was called back for offside.
Baxter, another former ‘Caps women’s player, was the provider for another great Canadian chance in the 49th minute when she crossed the ball from the right side into the Mexican penalty area. Sophie Schmidt covered a lot of ground to get to the ball but she put it over the goal.
As the second half went on, Canada piled on the pressure in search of the winner.
In the 78th minute, Lauren Sesselmann had a shot saved which was followed up by a Sinclair shot that was blocked. In the waning minutes, Sinclair had the ball at her feet in a good position once again on the right side but Santiago was again sharp to pull off the save and preserve the clean sheet for her team.