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Canadian women’s Pan Am soccer team may get stronger

Canadian women’s Pan Am soccer team may get stronger

Posted by PanamericanWorld on June 09, 2015

It could come down to a couple of U.S. college athletic directors, but it appears that the Canada women's soccer team at next month's Pan Am Games will be much stronger, and more exciting, than originally anticipated.

John Herdman, head coach for the national team and overseer of the women's program in this country, told The Spectator that he wants at least four players from the roster that beat England 1-0 last Friday at Tim Hortons Field in a Canadian Pan Am uniform when that tournament opens in Hamilton July 10.

Two months ago, Danny Worthington, head coach of the Pan Am team and Herdman's assistant with the senior national team, told that any player who made the roster of the Canadian team for the Women's World Cup, which began Saturday, would not be in Hamilton.

The concept was always that the Pan Am team would be an Olympic developmental team, aiming primarily to establish the core of the 2019 World Cup and 2020 Olympic teams, while fast-tracking the development of a player or two for the 2016 Olympics.

But Herdman told The Spectator that two of the players who have made the World Cup team and saw game action last Friday here —19-year-old midfielder Ashley Lawrence, and 17-year-old star-in-the-making Jessie Fleming who substituted for Lawrence in the 76th minute — will be in Hamilton if Canada Soccer can secure permission from their university teams.

Nineteen-year-old defender Kadeisha Buchanan, who also made the World Cup team as Canada begins its transition from the 2012 Olympic roster, is another player whom Herdman and Worthington will bring to Hamilton if her team, West Virginia University, agrees to allow her to miss more time. Lawrence also plays at West Virginia, while Buchanan would need to secure permission from Duke.

Duke would also have to release sophomore midfielder Rebecca Quinn of Toronto, another player Worthington and Herdman want for the Hamilton games.

"They've taken a lot of time away from school for the national team," Herdman said.

The coaches also want Brampton's Sura Yekka, likely to be another future cornerstone, to play in Hamilton but she's headed into her first year on scholarship at Michigan, "and might not be available because of the NCAA commitment," Worthington said this week.

Herdman said, "the girls have missed a lot of school (with the national team tryout camps) already.

"Our goal is to get those players, if we can fit in their academics and make it work, to another major tournament. So straight after we win the World Cup we fly with them straight into Hamilton for the Pan Am tournament.

"We said we'd absolutely make this a youth tournament to build that Olympic team of the future. So it's not about the older players who didn't get a game in the World Cup, but the future.

"Our goal is to really create an Olympic development team and to make sure that players of a younger age are given a chance to play together."

Worthington had a U-20 training camp last month and invited six recent grads of that program to participate. The best of that group will form the bulk of the Pan Am roster.

The No. 1 goalie is likely to be a veteran though: 28-year-old Stephanie Labbe, the third goalie on the World Cup team, who is looking to replace Karina LeBlanc when she retires from international play after June's World Cup, is the fourth player of last Friday's roster Canada Soccer wants here.

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