Canadian women win soccer's Cyprus Cup
Canadian defender Emily Zurrer opened and closed the Cyprus Cup with a winning goal.
The 23-year-old from Crofton, B.C., scored off a goalmouth scramble following a corner in the first period of extra time Wednesday to give Canada a 2-1 win over the Netherlands in a tournament final played in extreme wind conditions.
Zurrer kicked off the women's soccer competition with a headed goal off a corner in a 1-0 victory over Scotland.
The two goals were the first internationally for Zurrer, who has 39 senior caps for Canada.
Canadian coach Carolina Morace, while noting her players were not in peak condition given they are out of season, called the win a morale boost ahead of this summer's World Cup.
"It was important to win," she told The Canadian Press. "We had a very good tournament."
Canada has a history of excelling in Cyprus.
The Canadian women, ranked ninth in the world compared to No. 15 for the Dutch, have won the tournament three times in the last four years.
Wednesday's win improved Canada's all-time record at the competition to 13-1-1, including 8-0 the last two years.
Canada has reached the final every year, winning the tournament in 2008 and 2010 and finishing runner-up in 2009.
This victory came in the face of fierce conditions.
"It was difficult to build the game and play soccer," Morace said of the wind. "Because it was very, very, very strong."
Canada, playing in red as it had for its three previous wins, had the strong wind at its back for the first half. And the wind played a factor in the first goal when, with Canada pressing, Jonelle Foligno pounced on a back pass that rolled too far and scored in the 20th minute.
Claudia van den Heiligenberg tied it in the 40th, capitalizing on a defensive miscue. It was the first goal conceded by Canada in four matches and the only Dutch shot in the half.
"The second half we played better but the problem was we were against the wind so it was very difficult to build the game and be precise," Morace said.
Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod had to go off in the second half after suffering a minor ankle injury in a collision. Stephanie Labbe replaced her, making several key saves.
"We have three great goalkeepers," said Morace, who can also call on veteran Karina LeBlanc.
In other action, France blanked Scotland 3-0 for third place, England downed South Korea 2-0 for fifth, Mexico thumped New Zealand 5-0 for seventh, Italy downed Russia 2-0 for ninth, and Switzerland edged Northern Ireland 2-1 for 11th place.
The Canadian women get a short break before returning for a camp in Rome at the end of the month. They have closed-door friendlies scheduled against the Netherlands and Sweden.