(l-r) Rhiann Wilkinson, Marie-Eve Nault, head coach John Herdman and Melissa Tancredi gather for a photo after the three stars were honored for their contributions to Canada soccer at a retirement ceremony on February 4, 2017, in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo courtesy of Canada Soccer)
VANCOUVER, Canada -- Three of CONCACAF’s most accomplished stars laced up their boots for the last time on Saturday, when Marie-Eve Nault (71 caps/0 goals), Melissa Tancredi (125/27) and Rhian Wilkinson (181/7) played their final game for Canada in a 3-2 win over visiting Mexico in a women’s international friendly.
A crowd of 22,508 – the largest-ever for a women’s friendly in Canada – filed into BC Place to get a glimpse of their heroes wearing the red jersey for the last occasion.
“To get to play at home one last time, it’s very, very special,” said Wilkinson, a 34-year-old defender, who played in four consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cups through 2015. “It’s been a difficult week, but we’ve kept our emotions in check. We know this is a big day for Marie-Eve, Melissa and I, but it is also for our families, who have put us first for a long time and to be recognized for their contributions to our career.”
All three have won the CONCACAF Women’s Championship (2010), played in the FIFA Women's World Cup and have earned an Olympic bronze medal.
A member of the national team since 2004, Tancredi scored twice in Canada's famous 2-1 victory over Germany at 2016 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament -- the country's first-ever win against the European powerhouse.
“It’s so important to end this at home for me,” said the 35-year-old forward. “To be able to give this crowd a win at BC Place in front of our family and friends is really special, and to end it on the pitch with Sincy (Christine Sinclair) was amazing as well.”
The 34-year-old Nault became an integral part at the 2012 Olympic team after two defenders ahead of her on the depth chart suffered injuries.
“It was a whirlwind of emotion,” she expressed. “I didn’t expect to play 90 (minutes), but I ended up playing 90, and I wanted to do it for the team, surrounded by the best teammates in the world.
Together on the pitch at London 2012, they combined for one Canada's most important goals in the group phase against Sweden, with Wilkinson making a run down the right before her cross was headed home by Tancredi. The sequence moved through six Canadian players, with Nault providing the initial pass.
The retiring players were joined by their families on the pitch at the conclusion of the match and were given an emotional send-off as head coach John Herdman led the crowd in a rousing hip-hip-hooray.