With one loss in the last five years, the women’s national team has grown accustomed to teaching whatever lessons are learned during its games. But Thursday in Orlando, Fla., it got schooled by Canada in a sloppy SheBelieves Cup match the U.S. was fortunate to escape with a 1-0 victory.
“We’re going to go back and try to learn from this,” coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “That’s a good learning opportunity for us; that good teams are going to punish us.”
The only goal came from second-half substitute Rose Lavelle, who latched onto a loose ball after a Christen Press free kick and pushed a shot through a crowd at the near post in the 79th minute. That spoiled an otherwise spectacular effort by Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé, who took over for injured starter Kailen Sheridan in the 11th minute and made nine saves.
At least the U.S. got those shots on target. The Americans took 29 shots, but most of those either went over or around the goal or were deflected by Canadian defenders.
“I don’t know if rusty is the right word,” Andonovski said. “When we create 10 opportunities to score and we score one, I’m disappointed.”
Canada, ranked No. 8 in the world, hasn’t beaten the U.S. in 20 years, and with several starters unavailable because of injuries and club requirements, that streak seemed safe. But playing its first game under new coach Bev Priestman, Canada was not intimidated by the top-ranked Americans, testing U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher three times.
That’s as many saves as Naeher had made in her last three international games combined.
The tournament will continue Sunday with the U.S. playing Brazil, a 4-1 winner over Argentina in Thursday’s first game. Marta, who plays in the NWSL with Orlando, opened the scoring for Brazil with a penalty-kick goal in the 30th minute.
Canada will play Argentina in Sunday’s second game.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.