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Lacasse Masterclass: Canada Trounce El Salvador In W Gold Cup Opening Match

By on February 23, 2024 0 724 Views

It was exactly how Canada wanted to start.

On Thursday evening, the Canadian Women’s National Team opened its inaugural 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup account with a six-nil thrashing of El Salvador.

Head Coach Bev Priestman opted for some unorthodox decisions in her team line-up, starting in a 3-4-3 with Cloe Lacasse playing at RWB instead of her usual forward position. That proved to be a masterstroke move in the end by Priestman, however, with Lacasse being pivotal in Canada’s stellar display and winning herself Player of the Match to boot.

Canada began early, scoring inside five minutes thanks to a clever bit of play (and a little luck) from Lacasse. A cut inside from the right and a deflected shot was enough to beat El Salvadoran goalkeeper Idalia Serrano, who would have a busy evening across the 90 minutes.

Just over 20 minutes later, Jordyn Huitema would double the advantage. In a great move initiated by Huitema, Lacasse would be at the centre again, whipping a peach of a ball back for Huitema to cushion in.

Lacasse would not stop there, latching onto a fantastic through ball to send her clean on goal just a few minutes later. Ever the selfless player, Lacasse would lay it off for Adriana Leon to slot away into an empty net to make it 3-0 inside half an hour.

Canada would head into the break with a healthy lead, but with concerned faces as Nichelle Prince went down injured to what looked like a non-contact injury and had to be replaced just before the half.

The second half started strong once more, and Leon would double her tally on the night form the penalty spot after what looked like a harsh handball call on El Salvador in the box in the 59th minute. Leon would make no mistake, putting too much power on it for Serrano to save it, despite getting her fingertips on it.

Kadeisha Buchanan would get herself a rare goal from a corner just a few minutes later, getting on the end of a great Olivia Smith cross.

Smith, who came on in the second half, would add to her first CanWNT assist with her first senior goal in the 86th minute to sugarcoat the night, despite having to wait for a lengthy VAR review to confirm it.

The full-time whistle would blow and demolition derby would cease, as Canada get a near-perfect start to their W Gold Cup campaign.

Some questions would be asked about their performance, despite what the scoreline indicated. Even with them scoring three goals in less than 30 minutes, there was a level of sloppiness in their build-up, something that was only really rectified in the second half. Moreover, there were some sloppy fouls that resulted in four needless yellow cards. Suspension might be an issue later in the tournament when Canada may face some stiffer competition.

It may be likewise with injuries, as Prince went down late in the first half and Lacasse was chopped down on more than one occasion. Managing minutes will also be crucial to make sure that star players like Lacasse can stay fit for the entire tournament.

But there were many positives as well, with Olivia Smith getting a memorable second-half cameo with her first goal and assist. Lacasse won Player of the Match thanks to a hat trick of assists and her initial goal. Huitema was pulling the strings in that false-nine role, aAnd Canada’s defense never looked troubled as their organization and communication was on point.

Overall, it was a fantastic way to begin the competition, but there will be tougher games on the horizon. Canada need to ensure that they can keep this momentum going throughout the group stages and hopefully deep into the knockouts.

Canada play Paraguay next on February 25th.

Header Image Photo Credit: Concacaf

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