Soccer

Canada's Deanne Rose ready for 'emotional,' whirlwind 2021 soccer season

In a span of two short weeks, Canadian soccer striker Deanne Rose went from getting ready for the second half of her senior year at the University of Florida, to being selected in the first round of the NWSL draft to learning she’d finally be reunited with her Canadian teammates for the first time in almost a year. 

Alliston, Ont., native set to join Canadian teammates for anticipated SheBelieves Cup

Deanne Rose, pictured celebrating a goal in 2017, is known as an explosive, attacking player no matter which position she plays. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

In a span of two short weeks, Canadian soccer striker Deanne Rose went from getting ready for the second half of her senior year at the University of Florida, to being selected in the first round of the NWSL draft to learning she'd finally be reunited with her Canadian teammates for the first time in almost a year. 

Let's just say 2021 has started off pretty well.  "I'm just really excited," she said of being drafted 10th overall by the North Carolina Courage and being named to Canadian training camp for the upcoming SheBelieves Cup in Orlando, Fla., an hour-and-45 minute drive south from her collegiate home in Gainesville, Fla.

"It's going to be pretty emotional. We haven't been together in so long," Rose said of seeing her Canadian teammates in person. "I think it's going to be a kind of 'coming-home feeling.'"

Not only is it the first time the reigning two-time Olympic bronze medallists from Canada have been together in 11 months, it's also the first time they'll be under the watchful eye of new head coach Bev Priestman, who took over the position at the beginning of October. 

WATCH | CBC Sports' Signa Butler interview with Deanne Rose:

How Canadian striker Deanne Rose conquered her senior year in a pandemic

Sports

4 months ago
3:07
Deanne Rose speaks with Signa Butler about going in the first round of the NWSL draft, dealing with the pandemic, and the SheBelieves cup. 3:07

29 players for Feb. 6 camp

Priestman called 29 players to the Feb. 6 camp for the SheBelieves Cup, a four-team invitational tournament featuring some of the top nations in women's soccer, including FIFA women's World Cup champions, the United States and No. 8-ranked Brazil. This year, due to Covid restrictions, Canada (also No. 8) took the place of No. 6 England and Argentina (No. 31) is filling in for Japan (No. 10). 

The roster will be trimmed to 23 before Canada opens against its longtime rivals, the U.S. on Feb. 18.

Since making her senior team debut in 2015 at just 16, Rose, a native of Alliston, Ont., has gradually become a mainstay in the lineup and was a member of the 2019 World Cup team.

Known as an explosive, attacking player no matter which position she plays on the pitch, Rose enjoyed a breakout performance in Canada's bronze-medal match versus Brazil at the Rio 2016 Olympics. 

Superb Olympic debut

Making the 11th start of her young career, Rose scored the game's opening goal in the 24th minute, becoming the youngest to score in Olympic competition at age 17. She added an assist on Christine Sinclair's eventual game winner and nearly added another goal, but hit the crossbar. It was a superb Olympic debut.

Rose, right, facing Jamaica goalie Sydney Schneider during a CONCACAF women's Olympic qualifying soccer in 2020, is now a veteran on Canada’s national team. (Delcia Lopez/Associated Press)

"I was part of the 2016 Olympic staff where I felt Deanne was fantastic," Priestman said on a recent call. "Not just on the pitch, either. What I'm learning through the last couple months being in this role is she gives some great insight and has a really good awareness of where the group's at and what the group might need.

"Deanne, when she is fit, is absolutely outstanding and is a great addition to this group and a great threat for any team to defend against. [I'm a] big fan, big fan of Deanne."

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some NCAA conferences chose to split their season into two parts — fall and spring. Rose was limited to half of the Gators' eight fall games due to a nagging hamstring injury. Still, when she was available, she made an impact, scoring twice and assisting on two others in those four games.

The good news for Priestman is Rose is healthy and ready to go. 

"I'm cleared now and I haven't been injured since the season," Rose said, smiling ear to ear.  "I'm pretty excited to get back on the field injury-free and play freely." 

Like many Olympic athletes, this past year hasn't unfolded the way she'd hoped. Whether it was the ongoing global pandemic, the postponement of the Tokyo Games, heightened awareness around the Black Lives Matter movement, coaching changes on Team Canada and recently at Florida, and an injury in her senior year, Rose found strength in the lessons learned from Rio 2016.

"The lesson of this last year is you have to control what you can control and you have to be ready when you're called upon. That was something that I learned in Rio. It doesn't matter what your role is, you have to be ready to perform. No matter your age, no matter your status, anything like that, you're part of this team."

Rose, right celebrates the bronze medal with her parents after Canada’s victory against Brazil at the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)

Next generation

That lesson really defines this Canadian team, one that the most experienced group of players established and have passed down to the next generations of players. The blend of older veterans (e.g. Christine Sinclair) with younger veterans (Kadeisha Buchanan, Ashley Lawrence), newer veterans (Rose) and now the fresh faces (six uncapped players invited to camp) keep the culture rolling.

"What I love about the Canadian program is they're always willing to give younger, new faces an opportunity," Rose said. "I think it's great for our team to push everybody having new players come in. They have a fresh set of eyes. They've been watching for the last four, five years so they're going to come in with new ideas as we all did in the past."

For now, Rose is concentrating on her national team duties. After that, possibly joining the Courage, though that's still up to be determined once she wraps up her senior season with the Gators. 

"I want to have the greatest impact I can on my teammates," said Rose, a sociology major. "The Gator Nation is important to me as well, but if I can show my love and support for my teammates, then that's the most important thing that I could leave behind." 

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