Canadians in action: Lawrence debuts in Chelsea win
Ashley Lawrence's Chelsea debut was a happy one, while Cloé Lacasse's first Women's Super League match wasn't and Lucas Cavallini opened his goal-scoring account in a Xolos rout. Here's a look at Canadians in action over the weekend.
Ashley Lawrence and Jessie Fleming, Chelsea - Chelsea's drive to make it five straight Women's Super League titles began with a season-opening victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday in which a pair of Canadians took to the pitch. Toronto's Ashley Lawrence made her Blues debut after arriving in the offseason on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain, upping Chelsea's Canadian contingent to three. With Sam Kerr unavailable, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes handed a start to newly signed United States forward Mia Fishel and she rewarded her coach's faith with the opening goal of the match in the 28th. From a throw-in, Niamh Charles got the ball back from Sophie Ingle in a quick give-and-go and sent an inviting cross into the area just outside the six-yard box. Having shaken off a defender, Fishel headed home past Rebecca Charles to make it 1-0. Chelsea got a second in the 51st, but not without some controversy. After a Fishel shot from close range was denied by Charles, Guro Reiten was on the doorstep for the rebound and clearly put the ball over the line, but no goal was given and, with no VAR in play, the match went on. Reiten quickly found Charles who sent in a picture-perfect cross in front of the net for Lauren James to poke home to make it 2-0. Not only was the goal breathing room for the Blues, it also spared the blushes of the officials in what was generally not a great weekend for referees in England. But the match wasn't put to bed and Spurs were handed a lifeline in the 76th thanks largely in part to an error from goalkeeper Zecira Musovic. On loan from Manchester United, Grace Clinton ripped a low drive from just outside the area that Musovic dealt with, but failed to corral it. That allowed Martha Thomas, signed from United in the summer, to pounce and pull the visitors within one. It was at this point that Lawrence and London, Ont.'s Jessie Fleming were introduced to help see out the win. Lawrence came in for goal scorer James, while Fleming replaced Reiten. In her 14 minutes of action, Lawrence had 18 touches, made a pair of blocks and completed 12 of 15 pass attempts. Fleming completed 10 of 12 attempts, had six carries and a block. Toronto's Kadeisha Buchanan was an unused substitute on the Blues bench, while Canada teammate Shelina Zadorsky was an unused substitute for Spurs.
Cloé Lacasse, Arsenal - Arsenal played in front of a league-record crowd at the Emirates on Sunday with more than 54,000 people on hand to watch the Gunners open their 2023-2024 Women's Super League season, but things didn't go according to plan for the home side as they hosted Liverpool. Among those in the starting XI for Arsenal was Sudbury, Ont.'s Cloé Lacasse, who signed from Benfica in the offseason after three league titles, two Golden Boots and a player of the year award in Portugal. The hosts were looking to bounce back after being eliminated from the Champions League by Paris FC. While they looked threatening at times to start the match, it was the Reds who opened the scoring with what ended up being the game's opening goal and were full value for the effort. In the 48th, Marie-Therese Hobinger moved forward and found Missy Bo Kearns inside the area having slipped in behind Steph Catley and Katie McCabe. The England under-23 sent a beautifully weighted ball across the face of goal and through two more Arsenal defenders to the awaiting Miri Taylor, who slotted home past Manuela Zinsberger with a low shot. Despite the firepower of the likes of Caitlin Foord, Stina Blackstenius and the newly signed Alessia Russo, Arsenal couldn't find an equalizer and slumped to opening weekend defeat. Lacasse's afternoon ended in the 64th when she was replaced by Victoria Pelova. She finished her first match with one shot, a tackle, two interceptions and 16 of 21 pass attempts completed. Goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo of Welland, Ont. was an unused substitute on the Arsenal bench.
Lucas Cavallini, Tijuana - Xolos enjoyed a lopsided 5-1 win over Juarez on Friday night to keep in the play-in round places and push for automatic qualification for the quarterfinals with seven matches remaining in the Apertura. Toronto's Lucas Cavallini found the scoresheet when he came on as a second-half substitute. Despite the defeat being a heavy one for the visitors, it was actually Los Bravos who opened the scoring. From a free kick near the touchline outside the Xolos area, Tono Rodriguez dealt with an initial effort from Denzell Garcia, but he could only parry into the path of Andrija Vukcevic who poked home to make it 1-0 in the 18th. Juarez couldn't manage to hold their lead until the break. In the eighth minute of first-half stoppage, Xolos found an equalizer after a number of sparkling chances in the prior minutes went for naught. From a corner, Xolos earned a penalty when Luis Rodriguez was adjudged to have handled a shot from Francisco Contreras. Paraguay striker Carlos Gonzalez stepped up to take and his effort was hit hard enough to get through Alfredo Talavera to make it 1-0 going into halftime. The hosts grabbed their first lead nearly 10 minutes after the restart through Alejandro Martinez, who atoned for missing a sitter late in the first half. The goal came about after some sloppy defending from Juarez. Talavera's clearance was mishandled, allowing Martinez to unleash a powerful left-footed effort to make it 2-1 in the 54th. Questions could be asked of Talavera, who came out to cut the angle, but seemed to get it all wrong. Just seconds later Xolos would have another, this time through a proper golazo. Almost directly after the restart, Gonzalez struck a beautiful volley from just outside the area that froze Tavalera for his second goal of the match. In the 60th, Gonzalez would play provider to get Cavallini on the board, deftly flicking a ball forward to the onrushing Canada forward to beat Tavalera with a hard low drive. It was Cavallini's first goal of the season. After Fernando Madrigal's goal in the 66th to round out the scoring, Gonazalez completed his eventful evening with a straight red in the 77th for catching Sebastian Saucedo with a high boot. Cavallini finished his night with four shots, 20 touches and 15 carries. The win put Xolos in ninth on 14 points, two clear of Leon in the play-in places. Tijuana trails all of Juarez, Atlas and Pumas by two points for an automatic quarterfinals place.