|Cuba's goalkeeper Lucylena Martinez Rodriguez stops Canada's Kaylyn Kyle during the second half of their CONCACAF women's Olympic qualifying soccer match in Vancouver, B.C., Jan. 21, 2012. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)
VANCOUVER - VANCOUVER — Unlike their American counterparts a day earlier, the Canadians didn't need to run up the score Saturday. Two goals were enough.
Canada's women's soccer team dominated possession en route to a 2-0 win over the 96th-ranked Cuba at the CONCACAF Women's Olympic qualifiers. In doing so, they clinch a spot in the semifinals.
"It was going to go either two ways, a frustrating game or one where everything you hit goes in the back of the net," said coach John Herdman. "Generally, job done. That's two games and we managed to rest a few players tonight. We only need to draw to qualify for the top of the group with the goal difference that we're carrying. It's in a good space for Canada now."
In front of 12,417 at BC Place in Vancouver — a record high attendance for a CONCACAF women's tournament match in Canada — the hosts continued their pursuit for a berth in the 2012 London Games with another victory, staying atop their group with six points. USA is first in the other group following a 14-0 win over Dominican Republic Friday.
Needing until the 17th minute to strike first, Canada's Christine Sinclair continued her torrid scoring pace with her fifth goal of the tournament. After midfielder Kaylyn Kyle was tripped up in the box, Canada was awarded a penalty kick, which Sinclair converted. The striker then set up Canada's second tally in the 25th minute, crossing the ball to Melissa Tancredi for the header.
The Canadians had several other good opportunities to pad the lead but Chelsea Buckland hit the post in the 36th minute before Sophie Schmidt, who replaced Sinclair in the second half, was stopped by Cuban goalkeeper Lucylena Martinez from about eight yards out in the 51st minute. They finished with 14 shots on net.
"In the past, a game like tonight, we would have just been launching balls, hoping," Sinclair said. "(Herdman) sort of taught us that it's OK. You're up 2-0, you don't need anymore goals. Obviously it's great to score more but with them playing with pretty much 10 defenders, it was tough to break them down."
Having stated two days earlier that Canada would sport a different lineup than their first group-game, coach John Herdman stayed true to his word.
He started eight different players, with Shannon Woeller, Sinclair, and Tancredi the only three to have been on the pitch for the kickoff of both games. Every player on Canada has now seen action in the tournament.
Erin McLeod, making her first start, recorded the clean sheet for Canada.
Note: Earlier in the day, Costa Rica beat Haiti 2-0 to also reach the semifinals. They will face Canada on Monday to determine the first and second place in Group A … Costa Rica's Katherine Alvarado was taken to the hospital following her game with a neck injury … Canadian midfielder Alyscha Mottershead and forward Chelsea Buckland started their first senior international game Saturday … Sinclair's goal is her 11th in the Women's Olympic Qualification final round.