Canadians in action: Lawrence opens Chelsea account
Ashley Lawrence scored her first Chelsea goal in a rout. Plus, Liam Millar helped Preston North End get back to winning ways and Jordyn Huitema and Quinn are headed to the NWSL championship. Here's a look at Canadians in action over the weekend.
Ashley Lawrence, Kadeisha Buchanan and Jessie Fleming, Chelsea - It was a comfortable afternoon at the office for a trio of CanWNT members as Chelsea ran roughshod over Aston Villa during their visit to the West Midlands. Only London, Ont.'s Jessie Fleming was handed a start, but both Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence saw the pitch with the latter scoring her first goal in a Blues shirt. But the big news of the weekend with Chelsea wasn't the win - manager Emma Hayes will be departing at the end of season to take over the reins of the United States Women's National Team. Before she does that, though, she will want to add a seventh Women's Super League title to her trophy cabinet and Chelsea's early form this season indicates her club is up to that challenge. The Blues took control of the match midway through the first half thanks to two goals in five minutes. In the 21st, Fleming looped a deep ball to the far post of a crowded box. It was met a Mia Fishel header and the USWNT forward thought she had a goal, but it was cleared off the line by Rachel Daly. The clearance went only as far as to Millie Bright, who poked home with her left foot to make it 1-0. It was 2-0 in the 25th thanks to Fran Kirby, who missed out on a special goal earlier in the half thanks to the crossbar. Johanna Rytting Kaneryd sent an inviting ball across the box to Fleming. Her header deflected off of Fishel and the ball fell to the oncoming Kirby to slot home. Villa survived the onslaught for the rest of the half, but Rytting Kaneryd made it three in the 56th. Picking up the ball in midfield, the Sweden midfielder hopped on her bike and ran through three Villa players to get in alone on Daphne van Domselaar and hammer home in a beautiful individual effort. Then it was time for Lawrence to open her Chelsea account. Playing in her fourth league game since her arrival from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer, the Toronto native came on in the 56th and then completed a fine team move only minutes later in the 63rd. Erin Cuthbert did well to win the ball at midfield and sent a pass out wide to Fleming. Fleming's picture-perfect cross found an unmarked Lawrence at the goal mouth to poke home to make it 4-0. The visitors weren't done. Collecting a pass from Jelena Cankovic, Aggie Beever-Jones ran up the left side and then cut diagonally in on goal to beat van Domselaar in the 67th to make it 5-0. Niamh Charles would finish off the rout in the 73rd. Fleming played all 90 minutes, completing 32 of 37 passes and making two tackles to go along with her assist. Brampton, Ont.'s Buchanan played for 13 minutes coming on for Bright. She completed all 14 of her pass attempts. Mississauga, Ont.'s Leon was an unused substitute for the hosts. The win put Chelsea three clear of a logjam of four teams at the top of the table.
Liam Millar, Preston North End - After a red-hot start to the season that saw Preston North End near the top of the table, the Lilywhites endured a dreadful run of form in recent weeks with a winless streak that reached seven matches with an Oct. 28 loss to Hull City. PNE managed to steady the ship this past Saturday with Toronto's Liam Millar playing a key role in a home date against Coventry City. The two teams traded goals in the latter stages of the first half thanks to a pair of United States teammates. The visitors opened the scoring in the 33rd, but not without some controversy. Joel Latibeaudiere sent a ball almost to the penalty spot for USMNT winger Haji Wright. Wright appeared to shove marker Jordan Storey to the ground to play it to Matthew Godden. Godden's shot was stopped by Freddie Woodman, but Wright was there to pounce on the rebound to make 1-0 despite the furious protestations of PNE players and fans for a foul in the lead-up. The home side would equalize in the 38th through Duane Holmes. Millar teed up Kian Best at the lip of the area. His ball to the far post was cleared, but only to the edge of the box where Holmes beat Ben Wilson with a low drive to make it 1-1. Before the half was over, the hosts would grab the lead from the spot. In the 40th, Milutin Osmajic slipped behind the Sky Blues' defence to get in alone on Wilson, but his effort was sent well wide. Still, the referee spotted Kyle McFadzean clipping his heel and awarded a penalty. Alan Browne stepped up to take and sent his low shot past a diving Wilson to make it 2-1. Millar would help increase the lead to two goals in 71st with what would be the winner. Collecting a pass from Ched Evans in a give-and-go, Millar sent in a beautiful ball to the front of the goal for Osmajic to head home to make it 3-1. It was the former Liverpool man's first helper of the season. Wright would add a second in the 83rd, but it was as close as last year's playoff finalists would get. Millar finished his day with 34 of 51 passes completed, two tackles and an interception to go along with his assist. The victory took the Lilywhites to 25 points, one point clear of Cardiff City for sixth place and the final playoff spot through 15 matches.
Kailen Sheridan, San Diego Wave and Jordyn Huitema and Quinn, OL Reign - Three members of the CanWNT faced off on Sunday with a spot in the NWSL final on the line as Kailen Sheridan's San Diego Wave hosted Jordyn Huitema and Quinn at Snapdragon Stadium. In the 16th, Huitema and Sheridan went one-on-one. Megan Rapinoe dispossessed Emily van Egmond near midfield and broke forward. The USWNT legend did well to use Sofia Huerta as a decoy before crossing to Huitema at the edge of the area. Sheridan was up for the challenge and Huitema's powerful right-handed shot was acrobatically parried out of play in what was the best chance of the half for either team. The visitors grabbed the only goal of the match just after the restart and it was quality. Taking a pass from Rose Lavelle, Veronica Latsko shook off a defender and audaciously went for net from a sharp angle, fooling Sheridan into expecting a cross, and scored off of the far post in the 47th. While Sheridan was disappointed to allow the goal, replays showed what a piece of skill it was from Latsko to score it. Sheridan finished her evening with four saves. Chilliwack, BC's Huitema was subbed off in the 77th for Bethany Balcer. She finished her night with two shots and completed 21 of 27 pass attempts. Toronto's Quinn was brought on in the 81st to help preserve the lead, coming on for Lavelle. In their nine minutes of play, Quinn made one tackled and completed all three of their pass attempts. While three-time Shield winners, the Reign are still looking for their first title. They will meet NJ/NY Gotham in next Saturday's final after they dispatched Christine Sinclair and the Portland Thorns, 1-0 on a 107th-minute goal from Katie Stengel. Like the Reign, Gotham is chasing their first-ever title, meaning that Saturday's match will crown a first-time champion.