Mexico scraped past Canada 4-3 in a penalty shootout on Friday to reach the final of the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championships at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. The Central Americans will tackle USA today at 5pm. Both teams have qualified for the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in France later this year. Canada will battle Haiti at 2pm for the third and final qualification spot in the 3rd/4th playoff.
The game followed a similar tale of the first semi-final with the score locked 1-1 after regular time.
The first goal of the contest was scored by Mexico’s Jimena Lopez from a direct free-kick in the 34th minute. The defender unleashed a powerful shot from just outside the 18-yard box past Canada goalie Rylee Foster. Jacqueline Ovalle almost doubled the score two minutes later, however, the outstretched hand of Foster denied the Mexican.
Canada also showed their free-kick prowess in the 40th minute, but Mexico’s custodian Emily Alvarado shuffled across to make the save at her near post. The score remained 1-0 in favour of the Mexicans at the half time interval.
Both teams started the second half tentative but it was Mexico who got the first attempt of the second half in the 50th minute when Ovalle made room for herself on the left flank, however, her curling effort went wide of the far post.
Katy Martinez tried her luck in the 69th minute, from just outside the penalty area, but her shot was equally matched by Alvarado to keep the lead intact.
A double save from Foster kept Canada in the game when she made two point blank stops in the 78th minute to prevent the Mexicans from extending their lead. Canada got their reward in the 81st minute as their captain, Gabby Carle, drew her side level with the Mexicans. After the ball was whipped across the face of the goal, following their opponents’ failure to get the ball out of their own defensive zone, the attacker got her toe on the ball to poke it into the net.
Canada looked crestfallen, however, when Mexico were awarded a penalty kick in the 89th minute. But once more, Foster was there to deny them with a spectacular diving save to her right to keep out substitute Belen Cruz’s attempt and send the match to penalties. Mexico, despite the setback, held their nerve to secure the victory from the penalty spot once more.
Canada: Rylee Foster (GK), Emma Regan, Ashley Cathro, Julia Grosso, Hannah Taylor (Ariel Young), Shana Flynn (Teni Akindoju), Sarah Stratigakis (Caitlin Shaw), Gabby Carle (C), Jayde Riviere, Jordyn Huitema, Maya Antoine.
Mexico: Emily Alvarado (GK)(C), Ashley Soto, Miriam Garcia, Kim Rodriguez, Jimena Lopez, Andrea Hernandez, Dayana Cazares (Belen Cruz), Daniela Espinoza, Katty Martinez, Jacqueline Ovalle (Gabriela Juarez), Maricarmen Reyes (Mia Villegas).