Clinical Canada Beats Jamaica In First Leg Of Olympic Qualifier
After a disappointing World Cup that saw them not get past the group stage, Canada was motivated and hungry to get back on track – and did so beating by Jamaica in Kingston 2-0 last night.
“I told them to go out there and show their character,” Priestman said in her post-game press conference. “As the game went on I thought we looked good.”
Nichelle Prince and Adriana Leon, who played her 100th cap tonight, scored for Canada to lead them to victory.
“I think we need to continue the momentum. We got our quality and we want to go to Toronto and put on a good show.”
Canada is now 90 minutes away from securing their spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics and a sold-out BMO Field would be a fitting venue to do it.
“The job is only half done, and that’s the message to the players. We know Jamaica will do everything including throwing the kitchen sink with the Olympic games on the line, and we need to be ready.”
Jamaica are coming off a wonderful performance at the Women’s World Cup, where they became the first team from the Caribbean to qualify for the Round of 16, including getting a result against France and knocking out a top country in Brazil.
“We know the game is going to be tough to get a result.”
It’s pretty ironic that the last time BMO Field hosted a meaningful game for Canada was back in 2022, when the men beat Jamaica to book their spot at the World Cup in Qatar.
Priestman changed things up tactically in what looked like a 3-5-2 but also evolved into a fluid 3-4-3. It seemed to do the trick tonight and a strategy that threw Jamaica off.
“We wanted to get goals and I wanted to get numbers higher. I am super proud of the players, I thought they did a really good job and the mindset was right. That always feels nice.”
I was able to ask Priestman what she thought of Leon’s performance tonight and she agreed with the fact that she was one of the most aggressive players on the pitch tonight.
“In big moments, Dri is super hungry and I find it fitting that in her one-hundredth cap. She scores that goal and has that performance…she was outstanding.”
Finally, Priestman was asked about her team’s defensive performance tonight. They managed to keep a clean sheet and kept Jamaica at bay the entire game.
“In organized play, we were very good and I celebrated the clean sheet. It’s the foundation of what this team is and it was a goal and we achieved it.”
The game got off to a very slow start on a night where it was hot and humid in Kingston, where it had rained during the day leaving the pitch in terrible shape.
In the 18th minute, Prince opened the scoring on Canada’s first shot on target when she was able to head in a perfectly timed cross from Ashley Lawrence into the back of the net.
Jamaica had chances off some brutal turnovers from the Canadian defense but they were able to recover and block the Jamaican forwards from entering the box.
In the first minute of the second half, Leon thought she scored when she managed to get a shot on from acorner, but it went off the crossbar and stayed out.
Eleven minutes later she was at it again, firing a ball on net – but Rebecca Spencer made a big save to deny her. In the 64th minute, Leon had another chance that was once again saved by the Jamaican keeper.
Jordyn Huitema who came on as a sub in the second half had a chance in the 69th minute but was also stopped by Spencer. Kailen Sheridan the Canadian didn’t have a busy night making her only save of the night in the 79th minute as she dove to block the ball.
With eight minutes added to the 90 Canada looked for the insurance goal and it happened three minutes in when Leon managed to flick a pass from Gabrielle Carle into the back of the net.
Canada immediately got on a plane after the press conference bound for Toronto looking to finish the job on Tuesday night in front of a sold-out BMO Field.
Header Image Photo Credit: Audrey Magny