Teenager Kadeisha Buchanan was a star on both sides of the ball Thursday night as Canada tied the No. 1-ranked U.S. women’s soccer team 1-1, thanks to her first goal as a member of the Canadian national team.
“The future is bright,” said teammate Desiree Scott.
“Kadeisha Buchanan, 18-year-old, going toe-to-toe with some of the best strikers in the world and she scores a goal tonight. Unbelievable performance.”
Buchanan said it was a great experience to score but her work on defence was also key to keeping the Americans in check.
“Defence wins games and we tried,” she said of the physical way she challenged and often beat U.S. strikers such as veteran Abby Wambach as they rushed the Canadian goal.
“That’s part of my element.”
Coach John Herdman said Canada’s young back line did a great job and Buchanan has what it takes to be the best in the world at her position.
“She’s the (Christine) Sinclair of defenders, she’s that good” he said, referring to Canada’s top forward.
Buchanan scored her goal with a header off a corner kick just before the 35-minute mark of the friendly, and for 40 minutes it looked like Canada might finally beat a team they last defeated in 2001.
The 18-year-old Toronto native only made her debut with the national team in January 2013 but has seen 12 starts with Lauren Sesselmann out with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Herdman said it was disappointing to come so close and not get the win but he liked what he saw of the Canadian team’s development as they prepare for the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
American striker Sydney Leroux, who was born in Surrey, B.C., tied the game just before the 78-minute mark when she kicked Canadian defender Rebecca Quinn’s crossing header into the corner past goalkeeper Erin McLeod.
It was the third consecutive game against Canada in which she’s scored a goal.
“She loves big moments and she’s come through and she’s been fantastic,” said interim U.S. coach Jill Ellis.
McLeod had to make one big save early in the game off Heather O’Reilly and another in the second half off a header by Wambach.
Then the Canadian team had to block a free kick just past the 84-minute mark that could have put the Americans in the lead.
American keeper Hope Solo had her bid to tie the U.S. shutout record foiled by Buchanan.
The day before the game, Herdman said the crowd could play a role.
“We’re not going to have 700 shots and 700 crosses, so the fans have got to be ready to really get behind us when we need (them),” he said.
The crowd of 28,255 didn’t disappoint. The game was also blessed with cool but dry weather, after a forecast that threatened rain, and it was the second largest crowd ever to watch a women’s friendly in Canada.
“You could feel the energy,” said Herdman, who suggested it was a taste of what Canada will offer when it hosts the Women’s World Cup next summer.
Solo, who also played for the U.S. in the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, is just one away from tying Briana Scurry for the most shutouts in the American program’s history at 70.
Melissa Tancredi, who rejoined the Canadian team for the first time since she returned to school a couple of years ago to finish her chiropractic studies, got some playing time late in the second half.
The Winnipeg-born Scott said she was thrilled to play for the first time in front of friends and family as a member of the national team. This is her sixth year on Canada’s squad.
“It was exhilarating and exciting for me and it definitely drove me to give a great performance tonight,” she said.
Buchanan, meanwhile, is also a member of Canada’s under-20 World Cup team. The under-20 World Cup starts Aug. 5 with games set to take place in Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal and Moncton.