Head coach John Herdman demanded an early spark in the final group stage match of the Women’s World Cup in Montreal on Monday. His squad delivered just that but couldn’t hold on, drawing 1-1 against the Netherlands.
Ashley Lawrence scored the goal for Canada at the 10th minute, a strike that was equalized by Kirsten van de Ven just three minutes from regulation for Netherlands. Canada finished Group A with five points (a win and two draws), scoring twice while conceding once in three matches.
Four minutes before Lawrence’s first-ever international goal on the senior squad, Sophie Schmidt nearly gave Canada the lead with a header resulting from a Dutch giveaway at the back. The ball struck the top of the crossbar, keeping Canada off the scoresheet.
It wouldn’t take long for Canadians to find the breakthrough though. Schmidt sent a ball toward the goal from the right side of the Dutch area searching for Adriana Leon. A Netherlands defender blocked the pass only to send the ball straight to the path of an awaiting Lawrence, who took two paces before burying it past goalkeeper Loes Geurts.
After the first 15 minutes, the Dutch were far more composed, threatening regularly. Canada relied heavily on its backline, most notably Kadeisha Buchanan and newly inserted to the starting lineup, Carmelina Moscato, along with a bit of good fortune.
At the half hour mark the Dutch should have been level when Manon Melis played a perfect cross along the ground from the right finding Danielle van de Donk. The Dutch number 10 got there a step too early, the ball bouncing off the outside of her right foot and into the arms of Canadian keeper Eric McLeod.
After the intermission, Canada had two chances from another new starter for Herdman, Jessie Fleming. The 17-year old had two drives from outside the box, one sailing high and the other going wide to the right of Geurts.
Heading the other way as the match approached a hour, a block by Buchancan inside the Canadian 18 saw the ball possibly bounce off the arm of Josee Belanger. The referee from North Korea, Ri Hyang, waived off the claim and allowed play to continue.
Much of the rest of second half played out mostly around the middle of the park, with few notable chances in either end. Canada suffered a slight scare when Schmidt was down injured. She came back to the match and was substituted at the 81st minute.
While it looked as though Canada would guide the match to a winning conclusion, Melis got away from the Canadian backline on a long redirect from Lieke Martens, as she spectacularly relayed a pass from the middle of the park following a goal kick. Melis, clear through on goal, tried to chip the ball past McLeod, but hit the keeper’s left leg to miss the chance.
The Dutch goal came three minutes from time when Buchanan was caught up the pitch on a Netherlands counter. Moscato tried to clear the ball, but her shot bounced off an opposing player and on to the path of Melis, who soon found van de Ven on the right all alone. The second half substitute blasted the ball past McLeod for the 87th minute leveller. It was the first goal conceded by Canada at this World Cup.
Canada heads to the knockout stage as the Group A winner, playing in Vancouver on June 21. Its opponent has yet to be determined. Netherlands, finishing third in the group, must wait to learn its fate, while China finishes second to Canada and New Zealand goes home.