Canada misses out on bronze with loss to New Zealand at U-17 World Cup
4th place finish is Canada's best ever at this event
Canada, victimized by two early goals, had to settle for fourth place at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup after a 2-1 loss to New Zealand on Saturday.
The Canadian women found themselves down just 15 seconds after the opening kickoff with New Zealand's Grace Wisnewski erasing the tournament record of 22 seconds for fastest goal, set by Nigeria's Soo Adekwagh in 2008.
Wisnewski also scored in the 13th minute as the Canadians dug themselves a deep hole.
Lara Kazandjian threw Canada a lifeline in the 64th minute with a sweet left-footed strike from outside the penalty box after New Zealand failed to clear its lines.
WATCH | highlights from Canada's bronze medal match:
Canada kept pressing for the equalizer but New Zealand held tight through five minutes of extra time.
Still the fourth-place finish was Canada's best ever at the U-17 world championship. Canada's previous best was seventh in 2008 and 2012.
And it ranks as Canada's second-best showing at a FIFA championship, matching the fourth place that U-17 coach Rhian Wilkinson was part of as a player at the 2003 Women's World Cup.
The only Canadian team to do better — male or female — is the 2002 squad, featuring a 19-year-old Christine Sinclair, that finished runner-up to the U.S. at the U-19 Women's World Championship on Canadian soil.
Thank you to all the 🍁 fans for your support throughout our journey at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/canw17?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#canw17</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/U17WWC?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#U17WWC</a> <a href="https://t.co/L0cmPppTBV">pic.twitter.com/L0cmPppTBV</a>—@CanadaSoccerEN
"Sometimes the games don't go your way and we lost a heartbreaker today," said Wilkinson. "But they pushed, they gave everything they had. I'm extremely proud of them today."
New Zealand also finished a record high, having previously never made it past the U-17 group phase. In five previous U-17 tournaments, it had never finished higher than 12th.
Spain's tournament reign
Spain beat Mexico 2-1 in the championship game later Saturday at Estadio Charrua. Spain joins France, Japan, South Korea and North Korea (twice) on the list of under-17 world champions.
Marie-Soleil Beaudoin becomes the first Canadian to referee a U-17 Women's World Cup final and the third to take charge of a FIFA competition final after Sonia Denoncourt and Carol Ann Chenard.
Congrats to Canada Soccer's Marie-Soleil Beaudoin (in the middle) who will be referee at the Final of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Uruguay 2018! <a href="https://t.co/WXoOZZUmtv">pic.twitter.com/WXoOZZUmtv</a>—@CanadaSoccerEN
Canada had 62 per cent of the possession and outshot New Zealand 22-9 but only had a 3-2 edge in shots on target. The Canadians had 10 corners to New Zealand's two.
"Possession is a stat. It doesn't tell the story," said Wilkinson.
"They'll hurt tonight but they should be very proud of themselves," she added.
Disaster struck just five passes from the opening kickoff when Canadian defender Maya Antoine, looking to escape the New Zealand press, sent a back pass from within the penalty box to goalkeeper Anna Karpenko.
Karpenko's first touch was a little heavy, allowing striker Maggie Jenkins to challenge. The ball squibbed away to Grace Wisnewski who beat a desperate lunging challenge from Jade Rose to knock the ball in from point-blank range. Karpenko buried her face in her hands.
Canada regrouped and Andersen Williams forced a save from goalkeeper Anna Leat in the second minute. But New Zealand doubled its lead in the 13th minute on a beautiful goal that started from a poor Karpenenko kick.
A nice flick-on from Jenkins found Wisnewski, who shrugged off a challenge from Rose and hit a looping right-footed shot past the Canadian 'keeper from just inside the box.
Canada scored seven goals at the tournament, all in the second half.