Women’s World Cup

A weekly sports column from the 100 Mile Free Press

The FIFA Women’s World Cup kicked off earlier this month.

As of June 18, Canada already has two wins under their belt, beating Cameroon 1-0 in Group E and New Zealand 2-0. The Netherlands is also in the pool, with the Europeans being the only real opposition to the Canadians. It is likely the two will advance to the knockout stage.

Canada has some familiar faces in their squad, with a captain and already legendary Christine Sinclar, midfielders Desiree Scott and Sophie Schmidt, as well as the steady goalkeeper in Stephanie Labbé and fullbacks Ashley Lawrence and Allysha Chapman.

In fact, only four players have under 10 appearances on the books. Goalkeepers Kailen Sheridan and Sabrina D’Angelo have seven and six caps to their name. While defenders Jayde Riviere and Jenna Hellstrom have five and four.

Of the 23 players in the World Cup Squad, only nine play outside of the National Women’s Soccer League. Of those nine, only one plays for a club in Canada (Riviere).

It’s an important tournament for Canada. The women’s team has been a major contender in various tournaments for years but only have won two major competitions (2011 Pan-American Games and 1998 and 2010 CONCACAF Championships).

They have won some minor tournaments such as the Cyprus Cup (2008, 2010, 2011), Algarve Cup (2016) and the Four Nations (2015).

Currently, they are fifth in the FIFA World Ranking. In August to December 2016 and in March 2018 they were at their highest ranking spot at four. Their lowest ever ranking was 13, in December 2005.

Despite their standing in the sport, the Canadians have yet to capitalize on it on a major stage, and after failing to get past the quarterfinals in 2015 on their own turf they will be digging in deep.

It’s also an important tournament for some of the individual performers. At 36-years-old, Christine Sinclair is probably going to be playing in her very last World Cup. It will be her fifth in total, making her, making her the only Canadian to play in five world cups (Karina LeBlanc was also in the squad for five world cups, but only made an appearance in two of them).

She is also targeting the record for most goals scored across all competitions. She is currently sitting on 181, while American Abby Wambach (retired since 2015) has 184 goals to her name. It is completely possible for Sinclair to beat this record during the tournament, even if Canada doesn’t get past the group stage.

It’s also one way to get one over Wambach. The two players have been competing against each other for almost two decades and Wambach also seems to have the edge, with the Americans beating the Canadians in the final of five CONCACAF Championships. Wambach and the American’s also beat Canada in the third-place play-off in the 2003 World Cup.

It will be a nice victory for Sinclair if she beats that record. It could also be interesting to point that out of her 181 goals, eight of them are against the U.S., while Wambach has only scored seven against Canada.

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