Soccer

Christine Sinclair gets chance to break goal record in Olympic soccer qualifier

Christine Sinclair scored her 183rd international goal as Canada closed out its season with a 3-0 win over New Zealand on Sunday. Her next chance to inch closer to Abby Wambach's record will come at a 2020 Olympic qualifying tournament.

Canadian 1 shy of Abby Wambach's mark after scoring in international season finale

Christine Sinclair needs two goals to pass American Abby Wambach's international record of 184 after scoring in Sunday's 3-0 win over New Zealand to end Canada's international season. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press/File)

Christine Sinclair scored her 183rd international goal, inching closer to setting a new record, to help Canada defeat New Zealand 3-0 on Sunday in the finale of its international soccer season.

Sinclair is two goals shy of surpassing American Abby Wambach's record of 184 career international goals. When asked about the record earlier this year, Sinclair said that it would be a "relief" to break it and that she was proud of her career. 

Her next chance to do so won't come until the 2020 CONCACAF tournament, as Canada plays for a spot in Tokyo. 

Canada drew into Group B at CONCACAF women's Olympic qualifying tournament. They'll face Saint Kitts and Nevis on Jan. 29, Jamaica on Feb. 1 and Mexico Feb. 4. The top-ranked U.S., Costa Rica, Panama, and Haiti will also take part.

The Americans have dominated the previous four CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournaments while the Canadians have been runner-up the past three. 

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Fans have followed Sinclair's pursuit of history intently since the Women's World Cup last summer in France, where Sinclair — then four goals away — scored once before the Canadians were eliminated in the Round of 16 by Sweden.

Fans were also left wanting more in October when Sinclair and her teammates Canada dropped a 4-0 decision to Japan in a friendly.

Strong end to season

Janine Beckie scored the other two Canadian goals on Sunday while Ashley Lawrence chipped in with two assists. Goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé tied Canada's single-season record with her eighth clean sheet of the year.

"We got the result we wanted and that is very important for the confidence of the team," said coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller. "Scoring three goals and getting the clean sheet feels very good."

Canada, ranked seventh in the world as of Sept. 27, improved its 2019 record to eight wins, three draws and four losses in 15 matches, including 10 clean sheets, the second most in a single year for the women's national team.

Sinclair made it a 1-0 game in the 35th minute on a header after a cross from the right from Lawrence.

Beckie doubled Canada's lead in the 64th minute, taking advantage of a rebound after New Zealand 'keeper Erin Nayler made a save on Jordyn Huitema. Beckie scored again three minutes later off a Lawrence cross.

Canada had other chances throughout the match. Kadeisha Buchanan hit the crossbar with a header off a set play before halftime, and 15-year old substitute Olivia Smith nearly scored her first international goal late in the game, but her shot from the right was just wide of the target. 

Canada closed out its season with a 3-0 win over New Zealand on Sunday at the China Four Nations tournament on Sunday. (Canada Soccer)

"Since the FIFA Women's World Cup, we have been looking at our depth and staying loyal to tat process in order to get down to 20 players before the CONCACAF women's Olympic qualifiers in January," said Heiner-Moller, who took 27 different players to Asia, including Japan in October and China in November. 

Canada is the two-time CONCACAF champions, winning in 1998 and 2010, and two-time Olympic bronze medal winners in Rio 2016 and London 2012. 

WATCH | Christine Sinclair beat Brazil at 2016 Rio Olympics:

With files from CBC Sports, Canada Soccer

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