Canadian women's soccer team blanks Belgium at Algarve Cup
Missed scoring chances continue to plague Canada
Summer Clarke scored on her international debut and fellow newcomer Sabrina D'Angelo posted a shutout as Canada defeated Belgium 1-0 Friday at the Algarve Cup women's soccer tournament.
Clarke, a 20-year-old from Richmond, B.C., scored in the 89th minute as Canada pressed for a goal at the Complexo Desportivo in Vila Real de San Antonio, Portugal. Nichelle Prince hit the post in stoppage time.
"I think six players on each team touched [the ball] before it went in," Clarke told Canada Soccer. "It was a big scramble and then it fell at my foot and I just had to tap it in.
"It was just great work by everyone to push for the whole 90 minutes of that game because it was a tough one."
Canadian coach John Herdman noted Clarke and D'Angelo have been difference-makers.
"They both acquitted themselves very well [against Belgium] and young Gabby Carle had an impressive performance."
D'Angelo admitted to battling nerves at the beginning of the match.
"I got a little bit emotional during the national anthem knowing it was my first cap," she said, "but as a team, we got the job done. We stuck to structure and played well."
Herdman made a series of strategic substitutions during the second half to keep his top line fresh.
"It was a good performance today because the weather conditions were tough and the strong wind suited Belgium's style of play," he said. "The plan was to wear them down and I think we did that. The last 20 minutes they just couldn't cope with our pressure."
Canada is ranked 11th in the world while Belgium is No. 18.
Canada lost its opener 1-0 Wednesday to No. 15 Denmark with coach John Herdman lamenting missed scoring chances.
Canada wraps up pool play Monday against No. 19 Iceland.
Herdman opted for a more experienced starting 11 against the Belgians with captain Christine Sinclair, Rhian Wilkinson, Allysha Chapman and Melissa Tancredi in the lineup. D'Angelo, a 23-year-old from Welland, Ont., replaced Stephanie Labbe in goal.
Herdman opted for a young lineup against Denmark with Sinclair, who has been nursing a calf injury, coming on midway through the second half along with Wilkinson.
It's the first action for the Canadian women since the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship last month in Texas. Canada, which booked its ticket to Rio by defeating Costa Rica in the semifinals, romped through the pool stages of that tournament before losing 2-0 to the top-ranked U.S. in the final.
The other Algarve Cup tournament group features No. 7 Brazil, No. 16 New Zealand, No. 22 Russia and No. 40 Portugal.