SAN CRISTOBAL — Nikayla Small, Olivia Smith and Holly Ward scored two goals apiece Friday as Canada blanked Saint Kitts and Nevis 7-0 to open play at the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship.
Brooklyn Courtnall also scored for Canada, which led 6-0 at halftime.
In other Group G play at the Estadio Panamericano, El Salvador defeated Trinidad and Tobago 3-0.
Canada, coached Cindy Tye, plays El Salvador on Sunday and Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday.
The tournament, which runs through March 12 in the Dominican Republic, will send three teams to the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Costa Rica in August.
The CONCACAF champion, runner-up and third-place finisher will join host Costa Rica as representatives of North and Central America and the Caribbean at the U-20 World Cup.
The tournament starts with a 16-team group stage split into four groups of four, with the top three teams in each pool advancing to the knockout stage.
Group E features the defending champion U.S., host Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Nicaragua while Group F is comprised of Mexico, Honduras, Guyana and Panama. Group H features Haiti, Jamaica, Guatemala and Cuba.
The 12 teams that move on will join Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Curaçao and Suriname, which advanced directly to the knockout round from a qualifying event that took place in September.
The knockout stage of the competition will be a single-match elimination format.
It marks the first CONCACAF youth tournament since the global pandemic began in March 2020. Canada will also compete in the CONCACAF Women's Under-17 Championship from April 23 to May 8 as well as the CONCACAF Men's Under-20 Championship this summer.
Canada has qualified for seven editions of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, finishing runner-up in 2002 when a Canadian team featuring a young Christine Sinclair lost to the U.S. in sudden-death extra time before 47,784 at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium. That inaugural event was competed at the U-19 level with the event since switching to U-20.
The Canadian women failed to qualify for the 2018 U-20 World Cup in France and did not get out of the group stage in 2016 in Papua New Guinea. Canada hosted the event in 2014, losing to Germany in the quarterfinals.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2022
The Canadian Press