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Canada defeats Mexico 3-2 in Bronze Medal Celebration match

Canada's Josee Belanger defends against Mexico's Monica Flores and Nancy Antonio. (photo by Canada Soccer)

Canada’s Josee Belanger defends against Mexico’s Monica Flores and Nancy Antonio. (photo by Canada Soccer)

VANCOUVER, B.C. – Canada’s Bronze Celebration Match was a success after a 3-2 victory over Mexico. The match was much more than an international friendly between the 4th (Canada) and 26th (Mexico) ranked FIFA teams. This was an opportunity to say farewell and thank you to retiring players Melissa TancrediRhian Wilkinson and Marie-Eve Nault. The trio have a combined 377 caps and have given so much to Canada.

“0It’s a bit overwhelming,” said Tancredi. “I’m happy that we won, absoultely. It’s nice to see everyone sticking around for autographs, and just really soaking it in. It was going to be an emotional day for sure, and the game itself was going to be up and down and pretty scrappy. Yeah, it all came true. At the end, as soon as that final whistle went, everything just rushed.”

Christine Sinclair was feeling emotions after reflecing on the long journey she has had with her close teammates.

“I mean, so many emotions,” said Sinclair, “The first thing is proud that I’ve been able to call these three individuals teammates, and friends. We’ve literally taken on the world together, and shared heatbreaks. We’ve had our dreams come true in Olympic games. It’s been quite the ride.”

John Herdman’s squad showed that the future is indeed bright. Janine Beckie scored a first half brace after Deanne Rose opened the scoring. Nancy Antonio and Katie Johnson scored for Mexico.

Marie-Eve Nault started at centerback and wore the captain’s armband. Wilkinson entered the match in the 57th minute, and Tancredi came in the 76th. Both players received a roaring cheering from the 22,508 fans in attendance at B.C. Place.

“I’m not going to process it just yet,” said Wilkinson, “I’m just enjoying it. Being out there seeing the fans one last time. I had my family here. I had my family here, Marie-Eve had her, and Melissa. It’s a very special day, and everyone really went out of there way to make it a day we will never forgert. It’s amazing.”

Canada opened the scoring in the 14th minute after Deanne Rose broke through the Mexico defense and raced past Annia Mejia. Rose calmly chipped the ball over a sliding Bianca Henninger, who was making her first appearance in goal for Mexico. The 17 year-old Rose scored her 5th international goal for Canada.

The momentary advantage did not last long for Canada. Rose mistimed a clearing opportunity outside Canada’s box, and Nancy Antonio raced in past a pair of Canadian defenders before finding the back of the net past goalkeeper Steph Labbe.

It was a back-and-forth first half with both teams eager to put on a good showing. Henninger was not getting much help in front of goal, as her young defenders were out to lunch when Janine Beckie curled in a shot from distance in the 24th minute. The Canadian onslaught of offensive pressure continued. Christine Sinclair was tripped up in the 38th minute by Christina Murillo. Canada was awarded a penalty, which Janine Beckie stepped up and delivered. Henninger guessed wrong, and it was quickly 3-1 Canada. 

John Herdman made a switch in goal before the second half kicked off, and Sabrina D’Angelo replaced Steph Labbe. Mexico came out in a new shape and quickly pressed the Canadian back-line. A momentary defensive lapse helped Mexico cut the lead to 3-2 when Monica Ocampo sent in a corner that was converted to the back of the net by Seattle Reign striker, Katie Johnson. The former USC Trojan had all sorts of time and space with no Canadian player anywhere near her. 

Mexico Coach Roberto Medina did well to organize his team during the interval. Mexico was the better team in the second half and offered a much more competitive half. Canada did well not to concede a another goal. Wilkinson and Tancredi both got a run out and helped join Marie-Eve Nault in preserving another win for Canada.

Player of the Game, Janine BeckieOn an afternoon honoring retired and retiring players, it was a young striker that stepped up her game and show the promising future of Canada. Janine Beckie’s first-half brace set the tone for Canada. She was excellent in finding space and turning to score her opening goal. She sent Henninger the wrong way on her penalty, and she was dangerous throughout the match. Supporters won’t have to worry about goal-scoring and finding someone to link up with Christine Sinclair, since Beckie has shown she is more than capable of taking the torch from Canada’s players that have given so much.

Canada Starting XI: Steph Labbe, 46 (Sabrina D’Angelo); Allysha Chapman, Shelina Zadorsky, Marie-Eve Nault(C), Josee Belanger, 57 (Rhian Wilkinson); Sarah Stratigakis, 72 (Nichelle Prince) Desiree Scott, Jessie Fleming; Janine Beckie, Deanne Rose, 76 (Melissa Tancredi) Christine Sinclair(C), 4-3-3

Mexico Starting XI: Bianca Henninger; Clarissa Robles, Christina Murillo, Annia Mejia, Monica Flores; Nancy Antonio, Natalia Gomez-Junco 58, (Karla Nieto); Monica Ocampo(C), 64 (Maria Sanchez), Stephany Mayor, 88 (Teresa Noyola), Kaite Johnson, Kiana Palacios. 4-4-2


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