Canada beats Ecuador to start women’s Pan Am football tourney
A young Canadian squad got off to a great start in women’s soccer at the Pan American Games on Saturday night, posting a 5-2 win over Ecuador in their opening game of the tournament.
Striker Janine Beckie and defender Shelina Zadorsky scored two goals apiece for Canada, while midfielder Emma Fletcher added one of her own. Team captain Ligia Moreira scored both goals for Ecuador, who were fresh off their first-ever appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
While most of the Ecuador team played at that World Cup, just four players from the Canada roster are at TO2015. Instead, the team is full of youngsters looking to make an impact and stake their claim to a spot on the senior national team in the years ahead.
And if Saturday night’s game in Hamilton was any indication, the future is looking bright for Canada. The home team came out with plenty of spark, and Beckie almost opened the scoring in the fourth minute, but her strike from inside the penalty area was parried off the crossbar by Ecuadorian goalkeeper Shirley Berruz.
But eight minutes later, Berruz was powerless to stop Beckie’s left-footed crack from 20 yards, which found the corner of the net to give Canada a 1-0 lead.
Ecuador found an equalizer in the 29th minute, when a free kick at the top of the Canadian penalty area made its way through the defensive wall and wrong-footed goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé.
Canada regained the lead in the 44th minute when Zadorsky, who was team captain at the 2012 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup, looped in a shot from the left wing that dropped over Berruz’s head into the net. Then, just after halftime, Zadorsky got her knee to a ball bouncing around in front of Ecuador’s net off a corner kick to make the score 3-1.
Beckie showed excellent technique for her second goal, drifting a long-distance shot over Berruz in the 76th minute. Just two minutes later, Ashley Lawrence put in a low cross that found Fletcher, who finished off a solid performance with a goal to make it 5-1.
But the game’s closing minutes turned into a wild scene, when Labbé was shown a red card and ejected from the game. Canada had already made all three of its allowed substitutions, meaning that one of the players already on the field needed to volunteer to go in goal.
Beckie was the one to step up, and her first task was facing a free kick from Moreira in the 90th minute. Again, Moreira’s shot eluded the wall and provided some late consolation for the South American side.
Canada plays its next match on Wednesday against Costa Rica. Labbé will be suspended, meaning that Kailen Sheridan—who turns 20 the following day—will be Canada’s starting goalkeeper.