Canada downs Puerto Rico to secure last CONCACAF berth at FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup

·5 min read

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Anna Hauer and Amanda Allen scored two minutes apart early in the second half Sunday as Canada qualified for the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup with a 3-0 victory over Puerto Rico in the third-place game at the CONCACAF Women's Under-17 Championship.

Rosa Maalouf padded the lead with a late goal on a hot afternoon at Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez.

"I think all of us are just completely overjoyed," said Canada's Clare Logan. "We worked so hard to get here. We put so many hours in on the field, off the field, together as a group and we're just so happy to be able to secure that spot in the World Cup."

The Puerto Ricans, competing in the CONCACAF tournament for just the third time, proved to be stubborn opponents — at least for the first half. But the Canadians wasted little time taking control after the break.

Hauer, a second-half substitute, broke the deadlock in the 51st minute after Logan found her alone in front of goal. Hauer whiffed on her first shot attempt but was on target with the second, with Puerto Rico goalkeeper Ariana Anderson out of position after reacting to the first attempt.

Allen added to the lead two minutes later by curling in a terrific shot from the edge of the penalty box as the Canadians secured the last berth for North and Central America and the Caribbean at the U-17 World Cup in October in India.

Maalouf made it 3-0 in the 86th minute, knocking in a feed from fellow substitute Jaime Perrault. It was the 12th goal of the tournament for Maalouf, a 15-year-old from Ottawa who won the tournament's Golden Boot award as leading scorer.

The U.S., thanks to substitute Melina Rebimbas’ 77th-minute winner, defeated Mexico 2-1 later Sunday for its third straight CONCACAF title and fifth overall. Both teams secured their berths at the World Cup with their semifinal wins.

Mexico, also runner-up to the Americans in 2016 and 2018, had scored 57 goals leading into the championship game compared to the Americans' 56.

Lauren Martino opened the scoring for the U.S. in the 20th minute. Maribel Flores answered for Mexico in the 60th minute, the only goal conceded by the Americans in seven games at the tournament.

U.S. captain Riley Jackson was named top player at the tournament while teammate Victoria Safradin took best goalkeeper honours. Mexico won the Fair Play Award.

Canada also finished third at the CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship earlier this year in the Dominican Republic, qualifying for the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in August in Costa Rica.

The Canadian women have now qualified for all seven editions of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, highlighted by a fourth-place finish in 2018 when they downed Germany 1-0 in the quarterfinals before falling 1-0 to Mexico in the semifinal. Canada then lost 2-1 to New Zealand in the third-place game.

Forward Jordyn Huitema, now with Paris Saint-Germain, captained that 2018 Canadian team with Rhian Wilkinson, now in charge of the NWSL Portland Thorns, as coach.

Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand and host India have also qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India.

The Canadians outshot Puerto Rico 10-4 (5-2 in shots on target), had a 12-3 edge in corners and had 61 per cent possession.

Canada came close in the 11th minute off a corner on a powerful header by Ella Ottey that produced a fine reflex save from Anderson.

Canadian captain Zoe Markesini threatened off another corner in the 33rd minute, shifting the ball from one foot to another to make room for a shot, but Anderson was up to the task again.

Canada's Renee Watson hit the post in the 43rd minute with a long-range left-footed shot that Anderson may have got her fingertips to. Two minutes later Nyah Rose sent an inviting low cross across the Puerto Rican goal but Allen, battling a defender, could not get her foot to it to tap it in.

Hauer and Maalouf came on for the second half. Maalouf came close in the 80th but Anderson got a foot to her shot.

The Canadians ended up in the third-place game after losing 3-0 to the U.S. in Friday's semifinal. Puerto Rico lost 5-0 to Mexico in the other semifinal.

Canada went 4-0-1 in reaching the semifinal with wins over the Dominican Republic (10-0) and Bermuda (5-0) before tying Jamaica 1-1 to finish atop Group F on goal difference over the Reggae Girlz. The Canadians then beat Honduras 4-1 and Costa Rica 3-0 in the knockout rounds.

Puerto Rico finished third in Group G with a 1-0-2 record, losing 13-0 to the U.S. and 4-1 to Costa Rica before blanking Grenada 4-0. It then beat Panama 2-0 in the round of 16 and El Salvador 2-0 in the quarterfinal before running into Mexico.

The 2020 CONCACAF tournament was cancelled due to the pandemic. The U.S. dispatched Mexico 3-2 in the 2018 final.

Canada won the event in 2010, was runner-up in 2012 and 2013 and finished third in 2016 and 2018.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 8, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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