Under-20 team wins on campus

Canadian soccer still unbeaten in Kingston

Canadian defender Nana Attakora-Gyan (2) and American midfielder Anthony Wallace battle for position in the June 6 match.
Canadian defender Nana Attakora-Gyan (2) and American midfielder Anthony Wallace battle for position in the June 6 match.

Canadian striker Tosaint Ricketts recorded a hat trick in the Canada-U.S. U-20 soccer game at Richardson Stadium to become the team’s active scoring leader. The three goals helped his team to an impressive 4-0 victory over their American counterparts.

Ricketts has five goals in four appearances for the team.

His three-goal performance was only the sixth hat trick recorded by a Canadian youth team player, and the first since July 7, 1991.

“I just did my job,” Ricketts said. “They played great balls for me to run onto, and I executed.” Ricketts, who played as the Canadian team’s lone striker, said he relished the challenge.

“It’s not as crowded, and there’s more room for me to run onto the ball.”

The June 6 game, played before an enthusiastic crowd of 3,382, was the fifth in a six-game series leading up to next month’s U-20 World Cup. The event will be the largest sporting event ever held in Canada.

The win continued Canada’s unbeaten run at Richardson Stadium. To date, Canadian national teams have won four times and tied once in the five games they’ve played in Kingston, with the senior men’s side recording two wins over Belize, the senior women’s side defeating Australia, and the U-20 men achieving this win and last year’s draw against the United States.

The U.S. had defeated Canada 4-1 in Ottawa three days before the Kingston game. Head coach Dale Mitchell said the team’s previous loss prepared them well for the game in Kingston.

“I think it was probably good for our team,” he said. “Things have been going pretty well during our preparations, and Sunday kind of forced us to look in the mirror.” American coach Thomas Rongen said the team will try to learn from the Kingston game.

“What we did on Sunday so well, we got away from today. For us, it will be a great lesson... we clearly will use this game, as well as Sunday’s, to go forward.”

Ricketts opened the match’s scoring in the second minute, breaking through on the right side of the field and beating American keeper Diego Restrepo from a sharp angle less than six yards from goal.

Seventeen minutes later, midfielder Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault added to Canada’s lead off a pass from Cristian Nunez.

Shortly afterwards, Ricketts used a tremendous burst of speed to beat three defenders and slotted home his second goal of the night.

Ricketts completed his hat trick in fine style after the half-time break. While breaking in on the U.S. goal, he lost the ball to a tackle from American captain Julian Valentin, but quickly recovered and fired the ball into the net from 16 yards out. Ricketts, whose parents are both Jamaican-born but who hails from Edmonton, plays for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He said playing there has helped his career.

“In university soccer, it’s very physical. ... It builds strength,” he said, adding that the team is playing together well.

Beaulieu-Bourgault added that the team feels good about the upcoming World Cup.

“We’ve got to prepare more physically and mentally. It’s in Canada, so we’ve got the fans behind us, I’m sure,” he said.

“We’re going to take it match by match.”

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