Paving the way forward
National team stars played on European soccer's biggest stage
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/06/2017 (1943 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Canadian national team members Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence have been side by side almost every step of the way of their soccer careers.
The 21-year-olds grew up playing together in Brampton, Ont., and were college teammates at West Virginia University.
On June 1, they were on the field in the biggest game of their club careers — the UEFA Champions League final between French rivals Olympique Lyonnais and Paris Saint-Germain.
But in this game, the two best friends were wearing different colours, as Buchanan, a defender, plays for Olympique Lyonnais and Lawrence, a midfielder, is with PSG.
“We’ve always been on the same team,” said Lawrence. “At first it was kinda weird to see her on the other side. We exchanged a few words, but not really any smack talk. We just locked eyes and smiled.”
Buchanan said she and Lawrence didn’t talk any smack leading up to the game, either. Instead, the two best friends kept their distance from one another and wished each other good luck through text messages.
“I messaged her, saying, “Whoever wins, I’ll be proud. We both have a chance to win something big and good luck to you,’” said Buchanan.
The game was scoreless after 120 minutes and went to penalty kicks, where Olympique Lyonnais defeated Paris Saint-Germain 7-6. Lawrence’s team fell short, but she capitalized on her penalty kick when her number was called. She drilled the ball to the top left corner, to give PSG a 6-5 lead.
“I knew she was going to make it. I’ve seen her take many PKs in her life and she hasn’t missed one. I knew that one was going in,” said Buchanan. “I was definitely happy for my best friend for making that PK because if she didn’t, it would have been really sad even though we would have won.”
When Lyon goalie Sarah Bouhaddi stepped up and scored the game-winner, Buchanan was the first one there to dive into her arms to celebrate.
“Every team I play on, me and my goalkeeper always have a special bond,” said Buchanan. “So when (Bouhaddi) scored, it was a no-brainer to be the first one there. I was super excited and I was very pumped that it didn’t come down to me taking one.”
Buchanan became the first Canadian women to win a UEFA Champions League title. She hopes it inspires more Canadian talent to play professionally in Europe.
Canadian women’s national team coach John Herdman was incredibly proud to see his two young players make it to that stage. He said at one time, such a feat seemed unrealistic for Canadian players.
“If you asked any of us, would there be a group of women over in France playing in the Champions League final on two powerhouses of women’s football, at 21, earning bloody good salaries as well, you would have never have dreamed it,” said Herdman, who has been the national team coach since 2011.
Herdman said he pushes his players to keep raising the bar and push soccer to new heights in Canada.
“Seeing (Buchanan and Lawrence) is just more trailblazing that these women are embracing and it’s great for the game,” said Herdman, who coached the team to bronze medals at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
Although it was a history-making accomplishment, Buchanan said winning the women’s World Cup of Soccer or an Olympic gold medal for Canada would be even better.
“I’m so fortunate because so many players before paved the way for us to be able to accomplish these things,” said Buchanan, who has made 69 appearances for the national team. “You can see the future is so bright for Canada and it’s so exciting.”
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of...