Canada youth international Kinley McNicoll has won a CONCACAF Under-17 Championship and competed in the 2010 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup. (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Soccer Association)
OTTAWA – Magnified. That’s what Canada youth standout Kinley McNicoll is expecting the pressure will be when her country hosts the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in August.
“I think everything will just be magnified as there are higher expectations and added pressure,” said McNicoll, who grew up in nearby Oakville. “It will be a different kind of nervous energy, but it will add an element of excitement.”
The 20-year-old knows what it’s like to compete for and win an international trophy. Four years ago, she scored the lone goal as Canada defeated Mexico 1-0 in the 2010 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship final. The Canadians fell to Tricolor in group play, 1-0, but bounced back to overcome the United States on penalty kicks in the semifinals despite being down a player for more than 30 minutes.
In that tournament -- played in Costa Rica -- Canada had hoped to win its group and avoid a final-four showdown with the Americans, who netted a remarkable 32 goals in three group games.
After missing the group stage with an illness, McNicoll slid in as a fifth defender to combat the USA’s powerful attack. The formation and tactics worked to great effect as the two sides played to a scoreless draw through 120 minutes, before heading to penalties.
“We were really pushing as hard as we could and we wanted to score in extra time to avoid penalties,” McNicoll remembered.
Canada had nothing to fear, though, eventually eliminating its biggest rival 5-3 on kicks from the spot.
Two days later, in the championship match, McNicoll struck for an eighth minute goal, lifting the Canadians to their first CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship title.
“Playing in a final adds extra pressure and excitement,” said McNicoll, who went on to appear in two matches at the 2010 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad & Tobago. “To be able to call ourselves CONCACAF champions was huge.”
Four years later, all McNicoll can think about is the opportunity to play in front of family and friends at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. Her father has already bought an additional eight tickets for the opening match against Ghana, all with the hopes of seeing the McNicoll name lined up for the national anthems.
That support will surely help Kinley and her Canadian teammates. After all, it won’t be just family and friends cheering them along, but in fact an entire country.