Olivia Smith and Jayden Nelson were named Canada Soccer’s Youth International Players of the Year, in a Dec. 10, 2019 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canadian women thump Cayman Islands 13-0 at CONCACAF U-20 event

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Olivia Smith scored four goals as Canada thumped the Cayman Islands 13-0 on Friday in round-of-16 play at the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship.

Kaila Novak and Miya Grant-Clavijo added two goals apiece with singles coming from Zoe Burns, Brooklyn Courtnall, Mia Pante, Keera Melenhorst and Florianne Jourde at the Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez.

“I’m really proud of this team,” the 17-year-old Smith said after the match. “We had an amazing performance and I think (if) we just keep that going the rest of the tournament, we’ll be good.”

Smith, then 15 years and 94 days, made history in November 2019 when she became the youngest international in Canadian soccer history — coming in off the bench against Brazil in a tournament in China. It was the first of two senior caps for the teenage forward from Whitby, Ont., who has committed to Florida State University.

The Canadian women will face the winner of Saturday’s match between Panama (1-1-1) and Jamaica (1-1-1) in Tuesday’s quarterfinal.

Canada won all three group-stage matches, dispatching St. Kitts and Nevis 7-0, El Salvador 4-0 and Trinidad and Tobago 5-0.

The tournament, which runs through March 12, will send three teams to the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in August. The CONCACAF champion, runner-up and third-place finisher will join host Costa Rica as representatives of North and Central America and the Caribbean at the U-20 World Cup.

The tournament started with a 16-team group stage split into four groups of four, with the top three teams in each pool advancing to the knockout stage.

The 12 teams moving on joined Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Curacao and Suriname, which advanced directly to the knockout round from a qualifying event that took place in September.

It marks the first CONCACAF youth tournament since the global pandemic began in March 2020.

Canada will also compete in the CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship from April 23 to May 8 as well as the CONCACAF Men’s Under-20 Championship this summer.

Canada has qualified for seven editions of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, finishing runner-up in 2002 when a Canadian team featuring a young Christine Sinclair lost to the U.S. in sudden-death extra time before 47,784 at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium.

That inaugural event was competed at the U-19 level with the event since switching to U-20. The Canadian women failed to qualify for the 2018 U-20 World Cup in France and did not get out of the group stage in 2016 in Papua New Guinea.

Canada hosted the event in 2014, losing to Germany in the quarterfinals.