Canadian women beat Costa Rica, advance to COINCACAF U-17 soccer semifinals

Canada 2 Costa Rica 1

BRADENTON, Fla. — Calgary forward Andersen Williams scored twice and Canada hung on to beat Costa Rica 2-1 Wednesday at the CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship.

The victory moved Canada into the tournament semifinals with one group game to play. That will take place Friday when the Canadians will face the U.S. to decide the order of finish atop Pool B.

At stake in Florida are regional bragging rights and three berths in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Uruguay in November. The group winner meets the runner-up in the other pool in the semifinals.

The two finalists will book their ticket to Uruguay as does the third-place team.

Williams opened the scoring in the 18th minute on a play triggered by a long pass from Jade Rose just inside the Costa Rican half. Costa Rican goalkeeper Fabiana Solano came off her line to get the ball but ended up tangled with Canadian striker Jordyn Huitema and the ball bounced to Williams, who knocked it home with her right foot.

Williams made it 2-0 in the 51st minute when a long goal kick from Anna Karpenko found her accelerating towards the Costa Rican goal. She outraced several defenders and sent a low shot past Solano.

Costa Rica made things interesting with a goal in the 86th minute. Karpenko made a diving save to deny a shot from Priscilla Chinchilla but the ball went straight to 15-year-old Maria Paula Salas who tapped it in at the far post.

The win was Canada’s second at the tournament which started in April in Nicaragua but lasted just six games before CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, pulled the plug due to violence in Managua.

The tournament resumed at the IMG Academy in Florida, minus Puerto Rico and Nicaragua who lost their first two outings in Managua and were eliminated from advancing to the semifinals.

The Canadian women beat Bermuda 3-0 before being told to leave Nicaragua.

Since suspension of the Nicaragua tournament, FIFA has held the draw for the Uruguay U-17 World Cup.

The CONCACAF champion will play in a group with Brazil, Japan and South Africa while the CONCACAF runner-up is grouped with Colombia, South Korea and Spain. The third CONCACAF qualifier was drawn in a pool with Cameroon, Germany and North Korea.

Canada had qualified for all five previous editions of the U-17 World Cup, making the quarterfinals in 2008, ‘12 and ‘14.

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