March 1st, 2024

Kaylee Hunter scores three goals as Canada finishes third at CONCACAF U-17 tournament

By The Canadian Press on February 11, 2024.

Midfielder Kaylee Hunter is shown in action for Canada against Puerto Rico on Friday Feb. 2, 2024, at the CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship in Toluca, Mexico. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canada Soccer-Audrey Magny **MANDATORY CREDIT**

TOLUCA, Mexico – Calgary’s Kaylee Hunter scored three goals, including a highlight-reel strike from distance, as Canada downed Haiti 4-1 Sunday to finish third at the CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship.

After conceding an early goal, Canada tied it up in first-half stoppage time and then reeled off three goals in the first eight minutes of the second half to put the game away.

Liana Tarasco also scored for Canada. Lourdjina Etienne replied for Haiti in a contest that meant little more than bragging rights.

The CONCACAF U-17 championship usually sends three teams to the FIFA U-17 World Cup. But only two qualify from this year’s event because the Dominican Republic, a CONCACAF member, is hosting the soccer showcase in October-November.

The U.S. and Mexico, who met in the championship game later Sunday, will carry CONCACAF colours at the 16-country FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Canada will sit out the soccer showcase for the first time after losing 2-1 after extra time to Mexico in Friday’s semifinals. Haiti was thumped 7-1 by the U.S.

The U.S. came into Sunday’s final having won five of the seven previous CONCACAF U-17 championships, including the last three. Canada won the title in 2010 and Mexico in 2013.

CONCACAF covers North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Canada coach Emma Humphries made just one change to her starting 11 with Marée-Anne van Doesburg coming in for Isabelle Chukwu. Annabelle Chukwu, Isabelle’s twin sister, captained the side.

Haiti went ahead in the seventh minute when a Kimberlie Prince goal kick bounced behind the Canadian defence. Etienne beat defender Reese Kay to the ball and headed it, off the first bounce just outside the penalty box, over an onrushing Canadian ‘keeper Noelle Henning.

Etienne paid for her eighth goal of the tournament, felled by Henning who was yellow-carded on the play.

Canada had a chance to tie it in first-half stoppage time but Anabelle Chukwu’s penalty hit the goalpost. Mexican referee Amairany Garcia pointed to the spot after Prince, who was cautioned on the play, crashed into Chukwu in the penalty box.

Hunter tied it up soon after with a long-range rocket off a free kick well outside the area that found the top corner on the stroke of halftime.

Canada struck again in the first minute of the second half after Teegan Melenhost pounced on a short back pass from Djoulissa Pierre and found Hunter in front of the goal. Hunter beat a defender to knock the ball in.

Hunter played provider in the 51st, finding Tarasco after Prince was unable to hang onto the ball. And the goals kept coming with, a chip pass from Juliette Perreault finding Hunter behind the Haiti defence for a 4-1 lead in the 53rd with her fourth goal of the tournament.

Hunter, 16, plays for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite squad.

Canada’s Keira Martin hit the crossbar with a free kick from well outside the penalty box in the 90th minute.

It marked the third time that Canada and Haiti had met in the CONCACAF U-17 third-place game, with Canada winning 4-2 in 2016 and 2-1 in 2018. The two also met in group play in 2016 with Haiti winning 2-1.

Canada had its chances in the first half with a diving Prince pushing away a Chukwu header off a Canadian free kick in the 16th minute. Prince made a kick save in the 36th to deny Hunter from a sharp angle.

Prince was called on again in the 42nd minute, getting a piece of a Chukwu shot after a fine diagonal feed from Hunter put the Canadian skipper behind the defence.

Isabelle Chukwu replaced Annabelle Chukwu at halftime.

Canada improved to 28-11-3 in career play at the CONCACAF U17 championship. Haiti slipped to 9-14-2 while matching its best finish at the tournament.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 11, 2024

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