Canada tops Jamaica at BMO to qualify for Paris 2024


Published September 26, 2023 at 11:13 pm

The Olympic champions will be back to defend their title after the Canadian women’s soccer team beat Jamaica 2-1 Tuesday night at BMO Field to win the two-game Olympic qualifying series 4-1 on aggregate.

The score flattered the Jamaicans – who had an impressive showing at the recent World Cup with an historic quarter-finals appearance – as Canada controlled the play for most of the game, outshooting the Reggae Girlz 14-6, including 9-2 on target. But it was Jamaica who struck first when Drew Spence scored on a perfectly placed free kick over the wall in the 33rd minute, just out of the outstretched hands of Canadian ‘keeper Kailen Sheridan.

Canada kept up the pressure and were rewarded six minutes later when Adriana Leon sent in a corner kick that met Cloe Lacasse’s head in stride to tie the game as the sold out crowd erupted with joy.

The supporters section in particular was in full voice in this game, with chants, drumming and flag waving encouraging the home side on, with those supporters earning their stripes six minutes into the second half when Ashley Lawrence outmuscled a defender down the right side of the box and sent in a cross that was headed in by Jordyn Huitema, who entered the game at the start of the half in place of forward Nichelle Prince.

Canadian soccer legend Christine Sinclair, 40, started on the bench but entered the game for Leon in the 59th minute, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. Two minutes later, Sinclair had fans on the edges of their seats as she almost scored but was stopped in close.

Sinclair would have a couple of chances in the match, as would substitute Olivia Smith, with the young Whitby striker making her presence known quickly when she came on in the 86th minute.

It was a sea of red at Tuesday night’s Olympic qualifying soccer match at BMO Field in Toronto

Canada, now ranked 10th in the world, won 2-0 Friday at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica to set the stage for Tuesday’s dramatics, which qualified the defending Olympic champs directly to the 2024 tournament in Paris.

Jamaica still has a chance but will have to qualify at a future tournament.

The Canadian women have taken part in the last four Olympics, winning gold, bronze and bronze after finishing eighth at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Canada has won all 10 of its previous meetings with Jamaica, outscoring the Reggae Girlz 62-2.

Forwards Janine Beckie and Leon were recognized pre-game for their 100th caps with the national team. Beckie, who is with the team but not playing as she rehabs a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee suffered in March, has 101 caps to her name, with the 100th coming in a 2-0 win over Brazil at the SheBelieves Cup in February.

Leon made her 100th appearance with her 30th goal for Canada in Friday’s win over Jamaica.

At halftime, former defender Carmelina Moscato was recognized for her induction into the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2023.

With files from Canadian Press

Ashley Lawrence of Brampton (10) bangs the victory drum while Kailen Sheridan of Whitby (purple) and thr rest of their Canadian teammates join in

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