Players from Canada (pictured) rush to celebrate after topping Mexico on penalties in the CONCACAF Under-20 Women's Championship semifinals on December 11, 2015, in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. (Photo: Mexsport)
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – Canada qualified for its seventh FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, outlasting Mexico 5-4 on penalty kicks after their 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship semifinal ended in a 0-0 draw after extra time on Friday at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano.
Victoria Pickett completed the string off perfect attempts, also sending her side into Sunday’s final against either the three-time defending champion United States or host Honduras, which will square off later in the evening.
“It’s surreal,” said an excited Pickett just seconds after her attempt. “My teammates were helping me a lot, just telling me just to be calm and just pass it. It was for them that I scored that.”
Mexico can still earn a place at Papua New Guinea 2016 with a win in the match for third place, also on Sunday.
In a tightly-contested encounter that produced few genuine scoring opportunities, the Canadians extended their shutout streak in the competition to four straight games and 390 minutes in total.
They nearly won on the last kick of the second-half stoppage time, but Taylor Pryce poked an effort agonizingly wide of the left post off a superb feed from Sarah Stratigakis.
Following 30 minutes of extra time, Rebecca Bernal and Bianca St. Georges – the captains of Mexico and Canada, respectively – converted their teams’ first kicks.
Canada goalkeeper Rylee Foster – Golden Glove recipient at the 2013 CONCACAF Under-17 Women Championship – saved the Tricolor’s second by Monica Flores.
Vital Kats, Pryce and Mika Richards then each struck successfully, paving the way for Picketts’ winner.
After Flores’ miss, Eva Gonzalez, Kiana Palacios and Liliana Rodriguez found the back of the net for Mexico.