Canada U17s excited for early U.S. exam

Canada's Jordyn Huitema (pictured) has scored two goals at the 2016 CONCACAF Under-17 Women's Championship in St. George's, Grenada. (Photo: Mexsport)

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada – There’s a prevailing thought that facing adversity can lead to growth.

Canada will put that theory to the test on Friday, when it squares off against the United States in a 2016 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship semifinal showdown at the Grenada Athletics Stadium.

The winner’s ticket to the next FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup will be punched and a place in the CU17W final secured.

There’s a twist to all of this, however.  The Canadians fully expected to meet the Americans at some point in the competition.  They just figured it would be in the final, not the final four. 

A 2-1 loss on Monday to Haiti in the last Group A game for each left Canada in second place, forcing the North American neighbors to clash sooner rather than later. 

“Ultimately, we play the U.S. in the semifinals,” said head coach Bev Priestman.  “We’ll play them earlier than what we thought we would. 

“That’s going to be a great battle…Canada-U.S.…it always is.  We’re really excited to play it.”

Canada will have two opportunities to continue its streak as the only CONCACAF nation to qualify for every FIFA U-17 women’s competition.  Even if it was to lose to the U.S., an encounter against either Haiti or Mexico in Sunday’s match for third place would provide a potential lifeline. 

Not that Canada wants to leave it that late.  Priestman, however, is willing to take a wider and wiser perspective on the current circumstances. 

“The U.S.…that will be a great game,” the 29-year-old remarked.  “We develop players to play those sort of games and those games will develop players for the future.”

There’s no time for Canada to look back, especially the Americans have never lost in 23 all-time CU17W matches.

“We’ll just go for it,” finished Priestman.  “The girls know it’s not over yet.”