The Canadian women’s soccer team didn’t get the result it was looking for at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, but head coach Andew Olivieri took some positives out of his squad’s 2-0 quarter-final loss to the Germans on Saturday.
“I think anybody in Canada and outside of it can realize that Canada does have a very bright future in the sport,” Olivieri said after Canada was eliminated from the tournament. “There are some good players coming through and we had some players who were 16 and 18 years old on the pitch today who performed as well as a good German squad.
“I trust Canada is optimistic about our future and with some of the results of our women’s teams and our youth teams that the world is aware that there is some progress going on our side of the ocean.”
Pauline Bremer’s goal in the 23rd minute stood up as the winner as heavily-favoured Germany eliminated the host Canadian team. Rebecca Knaak added an insurance goal in 82nd minute.
Germany will now await the winner of Sunday’s match between France and South Korea to determine its semifinal opponent for next week’s game in Montreal.
“I am very relieved, and the whole team is very relieved to have won today,” said German forward Lena Petermann, who was named the player of the match. “We are very happy we were able to get this result and can now focus on the semifinals.”
German coach Maren Meinert said the Canadian contingent gave her team all it could handle.
“It was a very even and equal game,” she said. “It was a game where our girls had to fight hard to the very end. It is always our goal to come this far in the tournament and we are very relieved and happy to have achieved that.
“This is definitely a boost to the team’s confidence level, getting this win.”
The underdog Canadians were playing in the knockout stage of the tournament for the first time since 2004.
Canada came out with a very strong start, putting the German side on its heels early, and came close to scoring in the ninth minute when Emma Fletcher sent a long shot past German goalkeeper Meike Kaemper and off the crossbar.
Germany started to match the pace from there and had a strong opportunity of its own in the 17th minute as Rebecca Knaak got a shot off from in tight, but Canadian ‘keeper Kailen Sheridan was perfectly positioned to haul it in.
Germany got on the board in dramatic fashion in the 24th minute as a long goal kick was flicked on to Bremer for a clear breakaway. Sheridan came way out of her net to try and get to the ball and looked to have blocked Bremer out, but she was able to side-step at the last minute and take a shot on net that deflected off of Canadian defender Kadeisha Buchanan and in for a 1-0 lead. It was Bremer’s fourth goal of the tournament.
The favoured Germans kept up the attack for the remainder of the first half and almost added to their lead in the 34th minute before Canadian defender Rebecca Quinn made a saving tackle in the crease.
Germany came close to making it 2-0 once again in the 51st minute as a giveaway ended up giving Bremer a shot from inside the crease, but Sheridan came up with a big stop.
Canada had its best opportunity in a while at the 61st minute mark, but Janine Beckie’s perfect pass in front was whiffed on by Valerie Sanderson. Then, in the 67th minute, Fletcher barely lost a race to a loose ball sitting in the crease to a diving Kaemper.
The Germans made it 2-0 in the 82nd minute, as a corner kick by Sara Daebritz was headed in by Knaak.
Canada came flying back seconds later and Amandine Pierrre-Louis had Kaemper beat, but shot the ball just wide of the far post.
The Canadian squad furiously pushed forward in the final minutes, but was unable to get on the board despite a couple of very good chances.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the girls and the way that they have grown through the tournament,” said Olivieri. “If you look across the four games, I think you could say Canada’s future is bright, and that’s the most important thing to us. Reaching a semifinal was an important goal for us, but it was unfortunate — on a day that we were good and at times I thought better than Germany — it was unfortunate that we didn’t end up with the result.”
The attendance at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton was 22,421, easily shattering the previous best showing of 16,503 for the 2014 event in Toronto. It was, however, the final game of the U-20 World Cup being played in Western Canada.
Earlier Saturday, North Korea knocked the United States out of the tournament with a 3-1 quarter-final win on penalties in Toronto.
Jon So Yon, Ri Kyong Hyang, and Rim Se Ok each scored after drawing 1-1 through full-time. Goalkeeper Kim Chol Ok stopped three American penalty shots to earn player of the match honours. So Yon also scored in regulation, tying the game at a goal apiece with a penalty kick in the 54th minute.
Makenzy Doniak had the lone U.S. goal in regulation, sending the ball into the net in the sixth minute, while Stephanie Amack scored on penalties.
Notes: Only three teams have won the tournament since the inaugural event was staged in Canada in 2002. The United States has won three times, while Germany has claimed the title twice and Korea has the other It was the first time since 2004 that Canada had advanced out of the group stage Germany won all three of its games in the so-called Group of Death - Group B. The Germans outscored their opponents 12-6, although the totals against were blown somewhat askew in a bizarre 5-5 tie with China in their final group outing Canada finished 2-1 to get out of Group A, outscoring opponents just 4-3 Germany’s Sara Daebritz entered the game leading the tournament in goals with five Canada plays host to the women’s World Cup in 2015, with Edmonton serving as one of six host cities for the June 6 to July 5 event. Canada will play its first two games at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.