Canada mark Olympic homecoming with two wins over New Zealand

Gold Medalists of Team Canada pose with their gold medals during the Women's Football Competition Medal Ceremony on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at International Stadium Yokohama (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

Despite cold, rainy days in Ottawa and Montréal, Canada, fans turned out in droves to see the Canadian Women’s National Soccer team’s Olympic champion Celebration Tour.

October 23rd marked the first time the Canadian Women’s National Soccer team played at home since May 2019. Upon their return home, the team was eager to perform well in front of over 16,000 fans in Ottawa, and 10,000 fans in Montréal.

Their opponents for both matches were New Zealand, a team that failed to progress past the group stage in Tokyo.

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Before the matches, all available members of the gold-medal winning team were honoured individually. A celebratory highlight reel played on the screen, allowing fans and players alike to relive the team’s path to gold. After the celebration, the two teams came together at the centre of the pitch for a moment of silence.

The players stood in solidarity with victims of abuse in the sport – highlighting the need for change in light of recent allegations within the NWSL.

Ottawa, the host for the first of the two matches, Canada’s line-up closely matched the starting eleven used in Tokyo, with Janine Beckie taking over at right-back in Lawrence’s absence.

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In their first match together since the Olympic final, Canada was quick to treat their fans to a winning performance.

In a sequence of events that mimicked the Olympic final, captain Christine Sinclair earned a penalty kick in New Zealand’s box. She gave the ball to Jessie Fleming, who easily slotted it past goalkeeper Erin Nayler to give Canada the lead in the 12th minute.

The Canadians didn’t take their foot off the gas once.

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After a defensive mistake from Nayler, Sinclair scored a left-footed beauty just before half-time. In the second half, Nichelle Prince added her name to the scoresheet following a dangerous pass from Beckie.

Coach Bev Priestman soon made a number of substitutions, giving more of her champions a chance to play in front of their home crowd. Adriana Leon made a noticeable impact off the bench, scoring a brace.

It was not all smooth-sailing for the Canucks. A sloppy defensive play in the Canadian penalty box awarded New Zealand with a penalty kick of their own. Ria Percival converted, taking away the Canadians’ clean sheet.

However, they managed to rectify their mistake when they faced New Zealand once again on Tuesday. Although it was a much smaller margin, Canada secured a 1-0 win and boasted the clean sheet they’d been searching for. Leon was the lone goalscorer, bringing her to 23 goals for her country.

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