Women’s Soccer Archive

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After Iacchelli fails physical, Canada loses another NWSL allocation

Selenia Iacchelli

Selenia Iacchelli

(The first issue of Plastic Pitch features an in-depth look at Selenia Iacchelli’s journey through injuries and adversity, and finally to a debut with the Canadian women’s national team and an NWSL allocation at the age of 27. We follow it up with this update)

When the NWSL season starts this Sunday, 15 Canadians will be on team rosters across the nine-franchise league.

Fourteen of them will come from the 2014 roster spots the Canadian Soccer Association. Those 14 will be joined by Nkem Ezurike, who was taken in the draft by the Boston Breakers.

But, Canada has 16 allocations, not 14. Why did the number shrink?

Earlier this offseason, midfielder Desiree Scott announced her intention to move to England’s Notts County — and after weeks of waiting, the move finally went through. After the move was made, Canadian women’s team coach John Herdman chose not to fill Scott’s allocation spot, saying there wasn’t another unattached member of the national program who would merit it. (CLICK HERE)

And now there’s bad news on the injury front. And that comes from 27-year-old midfielder Selenia Iacchelli — the former University of Nebraska captain who overcame a series of injuries to work her way back into the senior national-team picture. Iacchelli has played professionally in Italy with Torres, and had been offered a contract by Doncaster Rovers, but that deal was scuttled because she broke her arm in an Edmonton indoor game. After making her debut with the senior national team late last year, she was granted an NWSL allocation in January of 2014. But yet another injury — following two foot breaks and that broken arm that put her career on hold — has set her back again. A serious knee injury has made her allocation spot null and void.
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Plastic Pitch launches on Apple — now available on all IOS and Android platforms

PpitchThe release of Plastic Pitch is complete.

Late Thursday night, we got word from Apple and our developer, MAZ Digital, that the magazine is now live for iPhone and iPad. It’s already available to Android users through Google Play and Amazon, so the rollout is now 100 per cent done.

For those who subscribed through our Kickstarter campaign, your e-mail address is key to unlocking your subscription. Thank you!

Inside, you’ll find a chance to win one of three Canadian national-team jerseys, courtesy of Umbro Canada.

And why should you pick up the first issue? From looking at Canadians in NASL to the BMO Field controversy in Toronto, we’re providing a comprehensive guide to soccer in Canada — through storytelling. No filler. No season previews or match previews or predictions or lists or power rankings, the kind of content that’s made just for the sake of creating content.

Here’s what you’ll find inside!
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Looking at the glass half-full: Assessing Canada’s 3-2 U17WWC loss to Venezuela

Marie Levasseur

Marie Levasseur

Without coming off too much like bad high-school newspaper journalism (“they did their best, but, despite their best efforts, came up short”), it’s difficult to assess Canada’s 3-2 loss to Venezuela at the quarter-final stage of the U-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.

Canada’s most glaring problems came in the centre of the defence, where the team was punished regularly for its high line, and not being able to cope with the physical presence of Venezuelan striker Gabriela Garcia. But, we have to remember that these are girls who would are at the Grade 11 age (or maybe even less). We have to remember that defensive awareness comes at a later age than other soccer skills.

So, really, where Canada struggled on Thursday — controlling the speedy Veneuzuelan counterattack — can easily be chalked up to the inexperience of youth.

And, while it’s difficult to go out the U-17 Women’s World Cup, at least it’s better to lose 3-2 — and show some real positive offensive glimpses — than go out to one of those oh-so-Canadian 1-0 or 2-0 defeats, where the commentators will say that we showed great heart but couldn’t create many chances.
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Jones’s late defensive heroics help Canada reach U17 WC quarter-finals

Rachel Jones

Rachel Jones

When you deal with teenagers, you accept that they may screw up. But, you’re happy when they learn lessons from their mistakes.

So, would Canada’s U-17 women’s team learn from their mistakes? That is, would they be able to protect a two-goal lead this time around?

On Saturday, the Canadians were in a must-win match against U-17 Women’s World Cup Group B leader, Ghana. In fact, the African side had already clinched a spot in the quarters, while the Canadians knew that if they won their final Group B match, they’d clinch the other quarter-final spot. It wouldn’t matter how the North Korea-Germany match played out.

And, at halftime, on the strength of a Marie Levasseur brace, Canada was up 2-0.

But we’ve seen this script before. In the Group B opener, Canada had a 2-0 lead, then went through a panicked five-minute spell where the European champions were allowed to score two quick goals. Canada had to settle for a tie.
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Herdman: No Canadian free agent is worthy of taking vacant allocation spot in NWSL

Desiree Scott, left, with John Herdman at a recent Canadian Soccer Association event in Winnipeg.

Desiree Scott, left, with John Herdman at a recent Canadian Soccer Association event in Winnipeg.

When the deal was made to transfer national-team midfielder Desiree Scott from FC Kansas City of the NWSL to Notts County, the Canadian Soccer Association made the decision not to replace her spot in the American pro league.

So, this year, the Canadian Soccer Association will foot the bill for 15 players rather than the previously-agreed-to 16.

In a conference call with Canadian media ahead of the Cyprus Cup, national women’s team coach John Herdman said that Scott’s decision to make the move to England caught him by surprise. And, then he made a rather frank assessment: He didn’t feel that Canada had another free agent who would merit the 16th spot.

“At this stage, we don’t have that depth of talent. My commitment is to put the best Canadian players in that league, and I can’t make that commitment at this point.”
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UBC, TWU repeats prove Canada West is best in CIS

Milad Mehrabi

Milad Mehrabi

The University of the Fraser Valley can claim moral victory. It is the only school in the last two seasons to knock off the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.

The T-Birds won their second consecutive title on Sunday, with a 3-1 win over Laval on a chilly, snowy late autumn day in Fredericton. Last year, the T-Birds had an undefeated season en route to a national title; this season, there was one early season upset loss to UFV, and then the T-Birds didn’t look back.

Amaury Fauvergne gave the underdog Rouge et Or the 1-0 lead, and it stood up till halftime. But UBC got a 51th minute equalizer from Niall Cousens, then took the lead in the 62nd minute when Milad Mehrabi struck. In the 64th, Navid Mashinchi finished UBC’s shock-and-awe portion of the game with the T-Birds’ third goal.
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Canada loses U-17 Women’s CONCACAF final in penalties

Marie Mychele Metivier

Marie Mychele Metivier

Because both Canada and Mexico had already qualified for the U-17 Women’s World Cup by winning their semifinal matches, the CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship final had the feel of a friendly.

After both teams played to a 0-0 draw in Jamaica Saturday, they went right to penalty kicks. No extra time (which is common practice at the U-17 level, as you don’t want teens playing 120 minutes). And the Mexicans triumphed in the shootout, 4-2 — as El Tri and the Canadian women shared in the schadenfreude of knowing that their American neighbours weren’t going to the World Cup.

“I’m really, really proud of the girls. If you look at what this team’s about, it’s about future national team players,” said Canadian Head Coach Bev Priestman on the Canada Soccer website. “I think losing on penalties it’s hard for the girls but ultimately, there have been some girls who stepped up in this tournament and are knocking on the door.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Canada qualifies for the Women’s U-17 World Cup with win over host Jamaicans

Marie Mychele Metivier

Marie Mychele Metivier

Canada will join Mexico and Costa Rica as CONCACAF representatives at the U17 Women’s World Cup.

As winners of the CONCACAF semifinals, held Thursday in Jamaica, Canada and Mexico earned their World Cup invites. Costa Rica qualifies automatically as the host nation.

The Jamaican supporters packed the stadium in Montego Bay for the semifinal against Canada. To rally the home nation, there was no charge to watch the game.

But the Canadian scored within three minutes to give the hosts a sober reality check, and went on to a comfortable 5-0 win.

And, in the irony of ironies, the Americans, who beat Canada in their final-group stage game to earn the right to play lower-ranked Mexico in the other semifinal, suffered a major upset. Instead of taking advantage of Mexico, the Americans lost in penalties after a 1-1 draw.
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Braletic, Jacques named CIS players of the year

Alex Braletic, left, wins CIS player of the year honours.

Alex Braletic, left, wins CIS player of the year honours.

Alex Braletic made Ryerson University history on Wednesday night.

When it comes to athletics, the school is more often than not a sad-sack story, with teams that regularly finish near the bottom of the standings. (As a Ryerson grad, I can write this without a hint or irony)

But, Braletic became the first Ryerson athlete to ever be named the CIS player of the year in any sport. On Wednesday, he was named the top university soccer player in the country.

Braletic led Ryerson to an undefeated league mark, as the Rams went 12-0-2 in OUA play. Braletic played in 12 of those 14 matches, and scored 13 times. That led the province in scoring.

But Braletic’s Rams lost the OUA final to their crosstown rivals from York, a team which featured former TFC Academy prospect Jonathan Lao, who was named the CIS rookie of the year.

And, on Thursday, in the first round of the national championships, Braletic and Ryerson suffered a 3-2 loss to Laval. Braletic did get one of the goals for Ryerson, but Laval got a goal and an assist from Patrice Dion and a marker from former FC Edmonton fullback Fabrice Lassonde.
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Canadian loss to Americans made all the worse because of Richards injury

Mika Richards

Mika Richards

It’s one thing to see a professional player down on the turf for a long period of time, and then stretchered off the field. But at least you can say to yourself that hey, that’s a pro on the field, (s)he knows the risks of playing the game. That’s why that person gets a paycheque.

But, when a teenage amateur player — on the field because of national pride and the chance to develop her young career — lays on the ground, it’s a lot harder to watch.

Canadian defender Mika Richards was on the turf for several minutes. And it put Canada’s 2-0 loss to the United States in a different light. Yes, Canadian keeper Rylee Foster made an outstanding double save on the ensuing American penalty kick but, with the game already lost, and Canada down to 10 players, it didn’t feel all that glorious. After all, these two teams’ final U-17 Women’s CONCACAF Championship group-stage game wasn’t a do-or-die affair; both had already qualified to move on.

Late in the match, after losing the ball to U.S. forward Mallory Pugh, Richards chased down her quarry from behind and tugged on the American’s jersey. Pugh went down, and in the process of going to the turf, her elbow looked to inadvertently crash against Richards’ face. But, replays showed that Richards was actually going down in pain before the contact was made. After the incident, Richards was motionless on the pitch for several minutes, being attended to by medical teams. Meanwhile, the referee placed the ball on the spot — after all, Richards did foul Pugh in the penalty area — and waited for the Jamaican hosts’ volunteer crews to take the injured player off the pitch. And, as Richards was strapped to the stretcher, she was sheepishly shown a yellow card for that initial shirt-tug.
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