Canada Shows Grit, Resilience To Defeat Ireland At World Cup
Bev Priestman told the media on Tuesday that it wasn’t going to be easy to face Ireland, and she was right as Canada fought back trailing early to knock out Ireland at the World Cup.
“I felt that we wobbled in the first half,” Priestman said in her opening remarks. “I felt we played a bit scared and at halftime I reminded them we are Olympic champions.”
Katie McCabe opened the scoring for Ireland four minutes into the game off a rare Olimpico goal that came from a corner which went over the head of Kailen Sheridan.
“I told them we need to be brave and take a step forward and I think the quality, character, and experience took over in the second half.”
The conditions weren’t amazing at Perth Rectangular Stadium, with rain on and off the entire night, not to mention a heave of Irish fans in attendance that made it feel like a night in Dublin.
“These moments build character and experience and we learned from it and we move on and it’s a great moment for us.”
Despite scoring early Ireland did a really good job in the first half defensively limiting Canada’s chances to score.
It took until the 23rd minute of the match for Canada to have a shot on target when Jordyn Huitema was finally able to get a shot on goal, but was denied by Irish keeper Courtney Brosnan.
I asked Priestman if maybe Ireland had caught them by surprise but she knew it was going to be a tough match and gave full credit to Ireland.
I knew what we were up against and I knew it was going to be a fight. I had massive respect for what they have done and that first goal rocked us a bit. It’s a great experience to move on from.”
Canada tied the game in the fifth minute of extra time in the first half, when it seemed the luck of the Irish was on their side as Julia Grosso’s cross into the box went off Irish defender Megan Connolly and into the net.
That goal seemed to spark the team and the second half is when we saw Canada at its best.
Eight minutes into the second half after being subbed in at halftime, Sophie Schmidt timed a perfect pass that was able to thread the needle through two Irish players to Adrianna Leon, who managed to score the game-winner.
“We made eye contact very quickly,” Leon said after the game in the mixed zone. “She gave me the perfect pass and made it easy for me to finish.”
Jesse Fleming, who once again was a question mark all week, got the start and was even was named captain of the team replacing Christine Sinclair, who for the first time at a World Cup didn’t start.
“I think they were good in the first half,” Fleming said. “I think they caused problems for us playing a tight block and they were aggressive and they had the crowd on their side so once we were able to stretch them out. Getting more energy opened up the pitch for us to find spaces.”
Finally, I asked Priestman if she felt the team needed a match like this to get themselves going in a tournament.
“Yeah, absolutely. I think that is a fair point and yes we needed this and you ride this high and it’s what spurs you on and it’s never a straight line and it’s one step forward each game and getting better.”
Canada will now have the daunting task of flying back to Melbourne to get ready to face the co-hosts Australia on Monday July 31 in a match that could decide the group winner.
Header Image Photo Credit: Canada Soccer