Canada earns spot in Rio with 3-1 victory over Costa Rica
ABS-CBN Sports on Feb 20, 2016 10:57 AM
Canada's Christine Sinclair (12) celebrates after scoring a goal against Costa Rica during the first half of a CONCACAF Olympic women's soccer qualifying championship semifinal Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — Christine Sinclair isn't quite sure how she scored the second of two goals that helped send Canada back to the Olympics.
The goal, in the 52nd minute of Canada's 3-1 victory over Costa Rica Friday night in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament, was set up with a juggle and a spin.
"I'll have to see the replay. I don't know what happened. The ball bounced to me and I decided to juggle it a little bit and I turned and shot," Sinclair said. "I think it's one of those things you dream about and in a game like tonight I'll take it."
With the victory, Canada goes to its third straight Olympics. The team won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Games with a 1-0 victory over France.
The United States was set to play Trinidad and Tobago in the late match at BBVA Compass Stadium for the tournament's second Olympic berth this summer. Canada will play the winner of that game on Sunday.
Sinclair, who has 162 career goals, leads all players with 18 career goals in the qualifying tournament for the North and Central America and Caribbean region.
"You look at tonight and it was a complete team performance, everyone did their part," Sinclair said. "You've got Deanne (Rose) at 16 and scoring goals in the biggest game of her career. Our job is not done here yet, but it's a huge honor to be going back to the Olympics. It's not easy."
Raquel Rodriguez scored in the 72nd minute on a penalty kick for Costa Rica, which has never been to an Olympics. Ranked No. 34 in the world, Las Ticas lost to the United States in the group stage opener, but beat Puerto Rico and Mexico to advance to the semifinals.
Rodriguez, who finished with six goals in the tournament, was co-captain of the Penn State team that won last year's NCAA title, scoring the lone goal in the 1-0 victory over Duke. Also a Hermann Trophy winner, Rodriguez was the second overall pick in the recent NWSL draft by Sky Blue.
"Today we lost to the bronze medalists in the Olympics, so there's no shame in that," Costa Rica coach Amelia Valverde said.
Canada, ranked No. 11 in the world, swept its group stage matches by outscoring its opponents 21-0, including a 10-0 rout of Guatemala on Tuesday night. Sinclair, who played for the University of Portland and is currently on the roster for the NWSL's Portland Thorns, sat out of that match.
Sinclair ranks second on the international career list for most goals, behind Abby Wambach's 184. Earlier in the tournament, Sinclair passed American Mia Hamm (158).
Her opening goal against Costa Rica came on a cross from Josee Belanger. She chested the ball then smoothly booted it into the far corner past Las Ticas goalkeeper Dinnia Diaz in the 18th minute. Her second was the stunner, with a quick juggle before she deftly put the ball into the net in the 52nd minute.
Sixteen-year-old Rose scored off a cross from Nichelle Prince in the 85th minute for the final margin.
Canada hosted the Women's World Cup last year, falling 1-0 to England in the quarterfinals. The United States won the title with a 5-2 victory over Japan in the final.