Those fans can now say they were there for perhaps a moment to remember in Canadian soccer as 16-year-old Jordyn Huitema, in just her fourth senior appearance, opened her national team account with two goals — in the 73rd and 74th minutes — off the bench.
Jessie Fleming, 19, helped perennial talisman Christine Sinclair, who turns 34 Monday, pull the strings, playing provider as the fifth-ranked Canadian women repeatedly ripped open the 30th-ranked Costa Ricans’ defence.
Huitema (pronounced HIGH’-tah-mah) thought teammate Nichelle Prince has scored the first goal. “I got up to celebrate with her and then everybody was kind of running towards me. I didn’t really know what was going on.”
“I guess I was trying to make up for the first one,” she said with a laugh.
Huitema showed her class off the field as well as on it, sharing the glory.
“It’s just an hour to be able to share with such an amazing group of women,” said the Grade 10 student. “I couldn’t have chosen a better group of people to surround myself with.”
All the more exciting is the talent developing in the pipeline.
“There’s a 13-year-old somewhere that’s going to be 16 in 2020 (the next Olympics) and pushing these girls for their spot because our system’s producing that … Jordyn was 14 when she first came into our national squad. And now she’ll be pushing Sinc, I’m sure, in 2019, 2020, for that starting spot.”
Now he wants them to have more time, more games together to work on their chemistry.
It’s clear Canada has Costa Rica’s number.
In Thursday’s win, Herdman’s team left a lot of goals on the table. Canada racked up 41 shots and crosses in Winnipeg.
Herdman wanted more ruthlessness in front of goal and the Canadians did not disappoint Sunday.
Canada went ahead in the second minute, led 2-0 after six minutes, 3-0 after 13 and 4-0 after 21. It marked the fastest ever 3-0 start to a game by the Canadian women. The previous record was 17 minutes in an 8-0 romp over Singapore in 2008.
It was 4-0 at the half and could have been at least 7-0.
The Canadians were helped early by a leaky Costa Rican defence that left acres of space for the Canadian front five of Sinclair, Beckie, Fleming, Rose and Sophie Schmidt to exploit. The five were constantly on the move, shifting the point of attack and befuddling the Costa Ricans.
With the outcome decided so early, there was less of an impetus to press in the second half and Canada seemed to take its foot off the accelerator until Huitema took the field as Herdman emptied his bench.
Sinclair, whose international tally numbers 168, could have had scored several times on the afternoon with some special moments of skill. Instead, she shared the wealth — particularly on Beckie’s third goal.
Taking a pass from Rose, fullback Lindsay Agnew lofted a cross to Sinclair in the penalty box. Sinclair could have turned and shot herself but instead chested the ball down and flicked it to Beckie who volleyed it high into the net in the 21st minute for a highlight-reel goal.
“That’s Sinc,” Herdman said of his skipper’s unselfishness.
Beckie, who had a frustrating night in front of goal Thursday, now has 18 goals in 34 appearances for Canada.