Evelyne Viens the spark as Canadian women's soccer team defeats Mexico 2-0 | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Evelyne Viens the spark as Canadian women's soccer team defeats Mexico 2-0

Canada's Adriana Leon (19) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Mexico during second half international soccer action in Montreal, Saturday, June 1, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Original Publication Date June 01, 2024 - 1:16 PM

MONTREAL - Adriana Leon and Cloé Lacasse scored the goals, but Evelyne Viens was the catalyst for Canada on Saturday.

Viens entered as a substitute in the second half and set up both teammates to lift the Canadian women’s soccer team to a 2-0 win over Mexico in a pre-Olympic international soccer friendly.

“Evelyne did what we know Evelyne can do and go and cause havoc as the game starts to open up,” Canada coach Bev Priestman said. “You can look down your bench and you've got some top players.”

Viens, a product of L'Ancienne-Lorette, Que., connected with Leon in the 73rd minute to help Canada open the scoring in front of 15,319 fans in her home province on a sunny, 27 C afternoon at Saputo Stadium.

Lacasse, another substitute, made it 2-0 in the 86th by calmly placing the ball into the back of the net on a breakaway after an assist from Viens.

The 27-year-old Viens led Italy's Serie A with 13 goals in 24 games for Roma. Now she’s showing off her skills as the provider.

"In Italy one of my teammates always says, 'you'll be so good if you can make that final pass,'” Viens said. “I think she'll be happy today."

Canada improved to 23-2-3 all-time against Mexico. The ninth-ranked Canadian women went winless against No. 31 Mexico in their previous two meetings (0-1-1) in November 2021.

The two sides meet for a rematch Tuesday at Toronto’s BMO Field to wrap up the "Summer Send-off Series."

Canada, which won gold at the Tokyo Games in 2021, opens its Olympic title defence in Paris on July 25 against New Zealand.

Priestman named a 25-player squad for the two games against Mexico. She faces some tough decisions to whittle it down to 18 plus four alternates for the Paris Games.

"An 18-player roster is a tight roster,” defender Jayde Riviere said. “Bev has done well with giving us the reassurance that it's never just one camp that defines a roster. It's over the longevity of months.

"Bev has a hard decision to make and as players it's (our goal) making that as hard as possible for her."

Several players did on Saturday. And while the team's depth is an asset, it doesn't simplify Priestman's choices.

"You walk away with what you thought was going to be more answers, and you’re coming away with more questions," she said. "I think you can't hide it's going to be difficult. There's going to be some top, top players that miss out.

“I don't know how I'm gonna get it to 18.”

Priestman selected a strong starting 11 Saturday that included captain Jessie Fleming.

Riviere made her first outing for Canada this year after missing the CONCACAF W Gold Cup and SheBelieves Cup. Veteran midfielder Desiree Scott came on as a second-half substitute for her first appearance since November 2022 due to a knee injury.

Canada controlled most of the first half and had little trouble building up play and progressing up the field, but couldn’t find the finishing touch in the final third. Janine Beckie had the team’s best chance but sent her shot wide of the far post on a breakaway.

Mexico put some pressure on late in the half when Diana Ordonez sent a header to the net that Vanessa Gilles cleared out of harm’s way with a scorpion kick.

Gilles — the defensive hero for Canada — blocked another chance with Canada leading 1-0 in the 83rd minute when Nicole Perez blasted from the centre of the box.

"We call her the magnet,” Priestman said. “Wherever that ball is, it comes into the box, whether it's an attacking set play, she's there.

“She's an absolute warrior."

Leon finally broke through with her fourth goal in her last four games for Canada when she corralled a pass from Viens before slotting a left-footed strike past Mexican goalkeeper Celeste Espino. Leon is up to nine goals in eight games for her country this year.

Viens then sent Lacasse on a breakaway with a perfect pass. Lacasse made no mistake, but waited and waited before slotting her chance into the net.

“I was really excited when she scored but I was like can you shoot soon?” Viens said. “She was just being patient, but great finish from her."

NOTES: Former national team player Diana Matheson, co-founder of the newly named Northern Super League, performed the ceremonial coin toss. The Canadian women’s professional league kicks off next April. … Olivia Smith was presented with the best young player trophy for her performance at the CONCACAF W Gold Cup before the match. Leon received the Golden Boot for her six goals at the tournament … Marie-Philip Poulin and six other players from Montreal’s Professional Women’s Hockey League team were in attendance.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2024.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2024
The Canadian Press

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