Canada Rallies For Victory Over Finland

canadaComing off 1-0 loss to Ghana in tournament opener, the Canadians needed at least a draw to have any hopes of moving on, but trailed Finland 2-1 at the half.

Nichelle Prince scored the game-winner in Canada’s thrilling 3-2 comeback win over Finland at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup on Friday.

Janine Beckie and Valerie Sanderson also scored in a victory that was a huge boost to Canada’s hopes of advancing.

Coming off a 1-0 loss to Ghana in their tournament opener, the Canadians needed at least a draw to have any hopes of moving on, but trailed Finland 2-0 at halftime.

Canada was a different team coming out of the halftime break, and Beckie, a 19-year-old who plays college soccer at Texas Tech and is the younger sister of former Columbus Crew defender Drew Beckie, scored the team’s first goal of the tournament in the 48th minute, her shot hitting the crossbar and curling in off a Finnish defender.

Sanderson, a 19-year-old who plays for the University of Memphis, pulled Canada even in the 50th when she one-timed a low cross from Prince to beat Finnish goalkeeper Vera Varis.

The 19-year-old Prince, a forward at Ohio State University, scored in the 80th minute, one-timing a cross from Beckie to the delight of the noisy crowd of 16,503 at the National Soccer Stadium — or BMO Field to its regular inhabitants, Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC. A large section of Ghana fans stuck around from their 3-0 loss to North Korea in the early game, and spontaneously broke into “O Canada.”

Juliette Kemppi scored both goals for Finland, opening the scoring in the ninth minute with a header of a corner kick.

Kemppi doubled Finland’s lead in the 21st, capitalizing on a poor clearing effort by Canada. Sura Yekka, who made her national senior debut almost a year ago, passed the ball inside straight to the foot of Kemppi, who launched a shot past Canadian ’keeper Kailen Sheridan.

Finland had opened the tournament with a 2-1 loss to North Korea, which is undefeated in two games to lead Group A.

Canada heads to Montreal to face Finland on Tuesday in its final game of the preliminary round.

The Canadians need to finish top two in Group A to advance to the quarter-finals of the tournament, which is a test run for the Women’s World Cup next year in Canada.

Canada’s best finish at this tournament was in 2002 — a loss to the United States in the gold-medal game in Edmonton in an event that launched the international careers of Christine Sinclair and Kara Lang, among others.

The Canadians had several other decent scoring chances, including a couple from Jessie Fleming. The 16-year-old had a long floating shot that bounced off the crossbar midway through the first half, then fired a low shot that Varis had to dive for a few minutes later.

Emma Fletcher fired a long volley off a cross from Prince that would have been a beautiful goal had it not soared just wide of the net.

The Group A winner will play its quarter-final in Toronto, while second place in the group will head to Edmonton for the quarters. The tournament semifinals are in Montreal and Moncton, N.B., while Montreal hosts the gold-medal game.

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