Canadian women blanked by Brazil, advances to soccer semis anyway

Canada dropped its final preliminary round game in women's soccer to Brazil by a score of 2-0 Sunday night, but will advance to play in the semifinals against Colombia anyways.

Alves, Rozeira notch goals

Canada's loss to Brazil 2-0 wasn't enough to knock them out for the tournament, and they will face Colombia in Wednesday's semifinal. (Peter Power/The Canadian Press )

The Canadian women's soccer team moved into the Pan American Games semifinals despite a 2-0 loss to Brazil in the final round-robin game Sunday night.

Coach Daniel Worthington called it a "massive step forward" for his developing team.

"We brought a young squad here (who are) learning to be international footballers and it's good karma," Worthington said after Canada qualified for the semifinals on goal differential. "So I think it's a massive step forward for us as a country, giving these players a chance against the No. 6 team in the world (Brazil) that put their best team out there."

Canada will play Colombia on Wednesday. Brazil will meet Mexico in the second semi.

Canada played very strong defensively and goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe made a couple key saves in the first half to keep it scoreless heading into the break.

Andressa Alves one-timed a centring pass deep in the box to give Brazil the 1-0 lead in the 55th minute. Cristiane Rozeira made it 2-0 in the 87th minute and Canada seemed to be just holding on.

Canada's Gabrielle Carle (85th minute) and Ashley Lawrence (88th minute) each received cautions in the final five minutes of the game.

"Our game plan was to go out and win the game," said Lawrence, 20, one of only four players on the team that were on Canada's roster for the World Cup. "But I think near the end fatigue set in. But we just needed to get back to structure in our organization. But again, that's where the learning comes in and we need to be better with closing out the game strategies."

Canada did have enough offensive chances in the second half to get the crowd going but had trouble getting off a decent shot.

A huge window of opportunity opened earlier in the evening when Ecuador beat Costa Rica 2-0. That meant three teams — Ecuador, Costa Rica and Canada — had one win apiece in Pool B, leaving Canada in control of its own destiny. A win, draw or four-goal loss against Brazil, which was minus just two starters from its World Cup squad, would put Canada through.

Costa Rica had a minus-three goal differential. Canada went into the game against Brazil plus-one and holding the tiebreak against Costa Rica with more goals-for. Ecuador, which had a 5-2 loss to Canada and a 7-1 loss to Brazil, was out of the hunt with a minus-seven goal differential.

The Canadians knew they were in tough heading into the tournament when they sent what was essentially an Olympic development team with everybody except Labbe under the age of 23, and many of them being only teenagers. Only four on the team had played in the World Cup - Labbe, Kadeisha Buchanan, Ashley Lawrence and Jessie Fleming. The other countries had sent mainly their World Cup rosters.

Then Labbe was red-carded late in the Ecuador game while both Lawrence and Buchanan had to return to West Virginia University briefly for school commitments, leaving the Canadian team severely depleted of experience in their 2-0 loss to Costa Rica.

Lawrence and Buchanan are expected to play for Canada the rest of the tournament.


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