Canadian Women’s National Team vs. New Zealand October 22, 2021, at 3 pm ET/6 pm PT TD Place in Ottawa, Ontario Watch Live: // Buy tickets here

For the last 77 days, the Canadian Women’s National Team has been living the ultimate dream. They are the reigning Olympic champions who impressively went undefeated at the Tokyo Olympics before beating Sweden on penalties for gold. And for the first time since that dramatic final in Tokyo, the group is finally back together. The entire Olympic roster, as well as four additions, kick off their "Celebration Tour" in the nation's capital on Saturday with a match against New Zealand before hosting them in a second game in Montreal on Tuesday, October 26. Early Friday morning, however, it was confirmed Ashley Lawrence is not with the team due to injury. "[Lawrence] has got a minor sort of injury," explained head coach Bev Priestman. "We collectively made the decision that it's best for [her] to return to play and get ready to play for Paris Saint-Germain. Obviously, she's disappointed not to be here and I know the team and the fans would absolutely love [her] to be here. Now plenty has changed within the program since Canada last played on home soil – much more than just the colour of their Olympic medal. The team’s last game in the country was when they hosted Mexico at BMO Field in Toronto on May 18, 2019 going on to win 3-0. To further stress the amount of time that has lapsed, these Celebration Tour matches are the first on home soil for some Olympians despite now having multiple caps to their names. Since their home last match almost 900 days ago, Priestman has stepped in for Kenneth Heiner-Møller, emerging players are making a name for themselves in the national team and Canada (who are now ranked sixth in the world, above the likes of England, Brazil and Spain) seems to be reaching new heights. Finally playing in front of fans helps solidify their achievement according to the players. "We're absolutely over the moon … We are beyond pumped to be back in Canada," said Desiree Scott. "There's something different about wearing the Canada red in your home country. And I know fans are going to be excited to get out and see us live." "To be able to bring this home in front of our fans and really celebrate and feel that support right in those stands is going to be incredible." "[Winning gold] still hasn't sunk in – the gravity of it, the weight of it," added Vanessa Gilles "Even just reflecting back on the experience – when I think about how much fun we had on the field, and just getting up and getting to talk and hang out and tell jokes with my best friends and getting on the field and being able to experience that with those people. For me, that's really what was remarkable about it." The scene is set to be a joyous one in Ottawa and fans who were waking up at the crack of dawn to cheer for their country almost 11,000 kilometres away this summer will no doubt give the national team a warm welcome home right from kick-off at TD Place.


  • Can Canada keep their momentum going?: On their route to gold, Canada pulled off some fairly impressive wins against top opposition including Brazil, Sweden and most notably, bitter rivals the United States. Every win symbolized a changing of the guard within the program as they continue to work for bigger and better results. The gold medal is proof of to their hard work. So now in their first game after collecting their hardware, there is a bit of added pressure on Canada's shoulders to make sure they keep their momentum going. A lacklustre performance against New Zealand is something they will hope to avoid. Prior to the game, Priestman admitted the team remains completely focused on the tasks at hand despite the tour still being a celebratory event. "We used the first few days to stop and reflect and have a celebration as a group - I felt that was important," said Priestman. "Obviously, the last couple of days we've switched now into preparing for this game because I think we're a gold medalists team, and we don't want to wear that on the back of our shirt a little bit and turn up at this game and take it for granted that we'll get a result. So the team is really focused now."
  • Call-up players to feature: With players spread throughout Europe and the United States, various schedules and travel difficulties due to COVID-19, it's great to see Canada Soccer find a way to bring all the players back for the tour (apart from Lawrence). But while fans will be eager to see the gold medalists hit the pitch again in Ottawa, it's important to keep an eye out for the four players who were recently called into the squad including Victoria Pickett, Marie Levasseur, Nikayla Small and Jade Rose. Where they fit in the team and how they play on the pitch could give some insight as to how the national team will look in the near future. Priestman said fans "can expect to see all players feature because I think they deserve to" but it's important to note she is giving priority to the players "who earned that special moment for Canada."
  • Soak up the veterans: This team is up and coming, but it wouldn't be anywhere without the work multiple veterans have put into the program including Christine Sinclair, Desiree Scott, Sophie Schmidt and all the players who have come before them. Heading into the match against New Zealand, be sure to soak up their performances on the pitch. It's been a long time since this team has played on home turf and some of these big names could be entering retirement in the near future. "I thought after the Olympics I was done," admitted Desiree Scott. "But winning that gold medal, being away from the game for a year (during the pandemic) really re-ignited the flame for me. Being a part of this team, how much I love it, how much of a family we are, how much I still love the sport, it's definitely given me some things to think about during this off-season. Retirement is a question but it's not a 'for sure' right now." Regardless of when they decide to hang up their boots, be sure to take the time to enjoy watching these players while you can.


Canada wins: 8 || New Zealand wins: 1 || Draws: 4


November, 2019 — Canada 3-0 New Zealand


"I think for people turning up, they're going to be part of history. This weekend in Ottawa and then in Montreal, it's a unique moment that we'll get to share with the fans. It feels warm. That's the word I've used from the minute they walked in. That group has got a special bond, they did something really special together. But then, hearing from fans, you see young girls and boys in the street they're seeing their idols on home soil and I think that's really special." - Canadian Women's National Team head coach, Bev Priestman

"I remember sitting at TD Place watching Canada play Brazil and saying to myself and my teammates at the time as well, 'Crap, I want to be on that field, I want to wear that jersey, I want to be celebrating with them,' ... Now me being able to play on that field, I'm doing exactly what I wanted to do. It's kind of full circle for me. But at the same time, I think about that moment and I think about other girls sitting in the seats that I was sitting at watching us play and I think for me, that's what means the most." - Vanessa Gilles

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