BY RAUL GARCIA
EDINBURG — Canada blasted its way into the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying semifinals with an impressive 9-0 shutout over Jamaica on Saturday at H-E-B Park.
Next up for No. 8 Canada is No. 26 Mexico, which also qualified for the 2020 CWOQ semifinal with their 6-0 win over Saint Kitts and Nevis earlier the same day.
“We’re going into the third match with a lot of confidence,” Canada head coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller said. “Jamaica was a good team coming off two tough back-to-back matches.”
It was the second time the Canadian and Jamaican teams collided at H-E-B Park. In its last meeting, Canada defeated Jamaica 2-0 in the 2018 Women’s World Cup qualifier.
Their match Saturday bounces Jamaica out of the running to represent their country at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
“When you come in flat against a top 10 team in the world, that is what you are going to get,” Jamaica head coach Hubert Busby said. “Unfortunately, today we had a bad case of stage fright when we really shouldn’t have. We played tentative and we played scared today. When you do that against a quality opposition like Canada — again the root result is what you get.”
Frustration set in for the Jamaican club after Canada’s third and fourth back-to-back goals by Janine Beckie gave Canada a 3-0 lead heading into the half. Her second score came during the 51st minute.
Beckie swept in a right-footed goal at the 66-minute mark for a hat trick and 7-0 cushion.
“We played a very good game and they (Jamaica) just blew up in the end, which is understandable,” Heiner-Moller said.
Canada didn’t lighten up on the gas finishing off a flurry of more goals, while putting on a clinic displaying why it is ranked No. 8 in the world.
Canada’s Jordyn Huitema lifted the Reds to its early 1-0 lead with a chip in from inside the goalie box in the 10-minute mark, igniting her five goal onslaught.
Huitema scored her hat trick off a pass from teammate Julia Grosso to extend the Canadian lead 6-0 during the 63rd minute.
Her last two goals came at the 80-minute mark and during the extended three minutes of game play.
“She had a great performance and the team, as well. She didn’t just dribble all the way to the goal herself. She was set up very nicely all the way from the center backs to the goalkeeper,” Heiner-Moller said. “She was pretty clinical today, so good job for Jordyn.”
Their captain, Christine Sinclair, the world’s leading striker with 185 goals made in international competition, was given the night off and watched from sideline while suited up as her teammates went to work against the Jamaicans.
“We decided this time around we know there are going to be three hard matches in a row,” Heiner-Moller said. “We needed to make sure everyone is ready for those three matches.”
The next three matches the Canadian coach referenced is against Mexico on Tuesday and the semifinal and finals match with the Group A semifinalists.
The losing team between Canada and Mexico on Tuesday could face the No. 1 United States in the semifinal.
The semifinal matches are Feb. 7 in California.
Canada’s Jessie Flemming and Adriana Leon were expecting to get the night off, but Leon ultimately played in the second period after teammate Ashley Lawrence went down following a Jamaican tackle that sent her to the sideline for the rest of the game.
“Some pretty bad tackles flew around but I think Ashley will be fine,” Heiner-Moller said. “So hopefully we have a full fresh 20 when play Mexico.”
Mexico and Canada both have deep rosters.
“This next match is going to very intense,” Mexico head coach Christopher Cuellar said.
Mexico holds the No. 26 world ranking behind Colombia at No. 25.
“They have played tier one teams a few times, so they know what we are able to put on that kind of pressure,” Heiner-Moller said. “It’s a different match; every match has its own story and hopefully we can write out a good one early in the first 19 minutes.”