They may have just missed the podium, but Team Canada did score their best ever finish at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup which wrapped up Saturday in Montevideo, Uruguay.
The Canadians, including North Vancouver’s Caitlin Shaw, lost 2-1 in the bronze medal game against New Zealand Saturday to end the tournament in fourth place. Canada had a nightmare start in the consolation final, going down 1-0 just 16 seconds into the match when a back pass from a defender to Canada’s goalkeeper backfired, allowing New Zealand to intercept with Grace Wisnewski blasting into an open net. It was 2-0 less than 15 minutes later when Wisnewski fired home a volley for her second goal of the game.
Canada fought back in the second half, getting a goal on a left-footed rocket from Lara Kazandjian and applying constant pressure in pursuit of an equalizer. Shaw very nearly tied the game up in the 68th minute, blasting a low shot that skidded just inches outside the left post. There were a few more outstanding chances for the Canadians but the tying goal never came, giving New Zealand their first ever medal at the tournament.
“It’s been a heck of a ride for these young people,” stated Team Canada head coach Rhian Wilkinson in a Canada Soccer release. “It was a heartbreak today, but you can only ask your players to leave everything on the field. I am so proud of what this group attempted to do in the second half.”
Shaw was a key cog in midfield for Team Canada throughout the tournament, frequently getting on the ball and pushing the play forward to set up her teammates. She was named player of the match following a 1-0 quarterfinal win over Germany that sent Canada to the semifinals for the first time in team history. This was her second trip to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup – she was one of the youngest members of the Canadian squad that finished with a 1-1-1 record and did not advance to the playoff round in Jordan in 2016.
Shaw is a member of the Whitecaps FC Girls Elite Super REX Centre program in partnership with BC Soccer.