Mississauga’s Leon, Ajax’s Prince lead Canada to a pair of soccer wins in ‘CelebrationTour’

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Published October 27, 2021 at 10:19 am

With Olympic gold still draped around their necks, Canada’s Women’s National Soccer Team kicked off their Celebration Tour with a pair of victories this week against the Football Ferns of New Zealand.

The two matches – played in Ottawa Saturday night and in Montreal Tuesday – were the first opportunity for the squad to play in front of home fans since the historic gold medal win against Sweden in Tokyo last August.

Canada kicked off the mini-tour with a 5-1 thrashing of the Ferns, with Jessie Fleming (PK), Christine Sinclair – with her international record-extending 188th goal – and Ajax’s Nichelle Prince staking the home side to a 3-1 lead before Adriana Leon (Mississauga) added a pair to finish the scoring.

Olympic hero Stephanie Labbe and Whitby’s Kailen Sheridan split the duties in net.

Leon was again the hero in the second game last night in Montreal, scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 victory. The match may have lacked the fluidity – not to mention toe goals – of game one, but the result was enough to extend Canada’s unbeaten streak to 12 games, a national record.

Coach Bev Priestman invited all 22 of her Olympic squad for the games, with just star fullback Ashley Lawrence (Caledon, ON) begging off due to injury, as well as four newcomers and most of them got in on the action.

All four Durham players got game time, with Allysha Chapman of Courtice playing the full 90 minutes in the first match and Pickering’s Jayde Riviere coming on as a substitute in the second match. Brampton’s Kadeisha Buchanan, a world class defender who plies her trade with Olympique Lyonnais in France, played evert minute in both games.

Labbe and veteran ‘keeper Erin MacLeod shared goalkeeping duties in the second match.

Qualifying for the 2023 World Cup begins next month, though Canada’s upcoming international schedule will be strictly exhibition as they, along with the USA, have already pre-qualified as the top two teams in CONCACAF.

In other team news, Sinclair, Fleming and Lawrence are three of the 20 women footballers short-listed for the 2021 Ballon d’Or, presented to the world’s top soccer player. No Canadian has ever won the award.

Photo Graham Hughes Canadian Press

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