PARIS (AP) — Inspired by Canada’s first NBA title, the country’s national women’s soccer team is aiming to emulate the Toronto Raptors’ magical run.
The fifth-ranked Canadians were fast asleep in France when the Raptors won early Friday morning. But the players copped to immediately checking the results the moment they awoke.
“We’re very excited for the Raptors. It’s massive for Canada,” midfielder Sophie Schmidt said. “The first thing we did when we woke up was check our phones. That’s massive for Canada and we’re hoping to get the result and have another success story for Canadians to celebrate.”
Next up for Canada is a Group E match Saturday against New Zealand at Stade des Alpes in Grenoble. Canada won its opener 1-0 over Cameroon, while New Zealand lost to the Netherlands 1-0.
Video review, which is being used at the Women’s World Cup for the first time, came in for some criticism from New Zealand coach Tom Sermanni on Friday.
“Can I be honest? Hopefully I can say this without any disrespect to anybody, I’ve been a bit disappointed in it,” he said. “I think the idea is great. But I think sometimes the concept and idea, when it works out, as it comes out, is not always fantastic. My concerns would be I think it’s stopped the flow of the games a lot. I think it has taken an inordinate amount of time over decisions that are incredibly marginal. I think it’s made some very poor decisions.”
Canada and New Zealand met four years ago in the World Cup in Edmonton, Canada, a match temporarily halted for lightning. The teams played to a 0-0 draw.
“I just remember it being a very tough match,” Schmidt said. “New Zealand shut us down, didn’t give us an inch. And I’m expecting similar from them, that they’re going to be fighting, not giving up on anything, dangerous, and we’re going to have to be at our best and put in a good performance to get a result.”
NETHERLANDS-CAMEROON: The first match on Saturday, a Group E game between the Netherlands and Cameroon at Stade du Hainaut in Valenciennes, could earn the Netherlands a spot in the round of 16.
The Netherlands opened the tournament by beating New Zealand and will have Anouk Dekker back from suspension and will likely return to the starting lineup.
Cameroon played well defensively in its opening loss to Canada, but it will take an increased effort against the European champions to avoid falling to 0-2 in the tournament. The Cameroonians struggled with possession and coach Alain Djeumfa is likely to rotate his lineup to spark offense.
RECAPPING Friday: Jodie Taylor scored her first international goal in 14 months to send England into the second round with a 1-0 victory over Argentina . The Argentines, who scored their first ever World Cup point in an opening draw against Japan, were resilient but Taylor finally found a way past goalkeeper Vanina Correa in the 61st minute after she had repeatedly thwarted England’s attack. Taylor sneaked into a central location unchecked by the Argentine defense and met Beth Mead’s low cross. She nudged the ball into the net and ended a 540-day England goal drought for the Golden Boot winner from the 2017 European Championship … Cristiana Girelli scored a hat trick to put Italy into the second round of the Women’s World Cup with a 5-0 victory over Jamaica. It was Italy’s second hat trick at the World Cup, as Girelli joined Carolina Morace, who did it at the inaugural 1991 tournament. Girelli’s three goals were the third hat trick so far this World Cup. Girelli’s first goal was on a penalty kick she got two chances at making. Jamaica goalkeeper Sydney Schneider saved Girelli’s low penalty shot to the right post, but video review determined Schneider came off her line too soon. Girelli scored on her second attempt to get Italy rolling. Aurora Galli came in as a substitute for Italy and scored twice for the final margin. …. Mana Iwabuchi had an early goal and then Japan held off a late charge from Scotland for a 2-1 victory. Iwabuchi, who was on the Japanese team that won the World Cup in 2011, scored in the 23rd minute to give Japan its first goal of the tournament. Yuika Sugasawa converted a penalty in the 37th minute to pad the lead going into the break.
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