SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Rosa Maalouf scored three goals and Canada rallied in the second half to dispatch a stubborn Honduran side 4-1 in round-of-16 play Sunday at the CONCACAF Women's Under-17 Championship.
The 15-year-old from Ottawa raised her tournament total to nine goals.
Honduras opened the scoring on a wet afternoon and soggy pitch at Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez and proved to be a handful in the first half. The favoured Canadians showed more purpose in the second half, pulling ahead four minutes after the break.
Canada plays Costa Rica in Wednesday's quarterfinal. Costa Rica edged Nicaragua in their round-of-16 match Saturday. The defending champion Americans, who have outscored the opposition 49-0 in four games, could await Canada in the semifinal.
The CONCACAF champion, runner-up and third-place finisher will qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India in October.
Honduras came out with energy and went ahead in the 28th minute via a Susan Henriquez header off a corner. It looked like a Canadian, in heavy traffic, got to the ball first in the air but her header went back towards goal where Henriquez nodded it home.
Maalouf tied it in the 34th minute from the penalty spot. Maalouf earned the penalty, taken down by goalkeeper Nathalie Urrutia as the Canadian forward looked to dribble around her.
Maalouf scored again in the 49th, heading home a long free kick by captain Zoe Markesini. Her cause was helped by Urrutia slipping on a muddy patch in front of goal as she came off her line in search of the ball.
Maalouf completed her hat trick in the 83rd minute with a low shot from a tight angle outside the penalty box that found the corner of the Honduran goal. Amanda Allen added an insurance goal five minutes later, beating Urrutia after being put in alone on the 'keeper.
The Canadians made it to the knockout round after winning Group F with a 2-0-1 record, downing the Dominican Republic 10-0 and Bermuda 5-0 before tying Jamaica 1-1.
The round of 16 featured the top three finishers in each of the four groups plus Honduras, St. Kitts and Nevis, Curacao and Honduras who made it to the knockout round by virtue of their performance at an earlier qualifying tournament.
Honduras has the first good scoring chance in the sixth minute with Canadian 'keeper Coralie Lallier forced to make an acrobatic one-handed save to parry away a header by Jaylen Vallecillo.
Canada dodged a bullet in the 17th minute when Geleen Lopez broke in alone after pressuring Canadian defender Janet Okeke into a mistake. But Lallier managed to get part of her body in front of the ball.
Honduran substitute Larissa Arias forced a diving one-handed save from Lallier in the 71st minute after dribbling past a defender.
The 2020 CONCACAF tournament was cancelled due to the pandemic. The U.S. dispatched Mexico 3-2 in the 2018 final.
Canada won the event in 2010, was runner-up in 2012 and 2013 and finished third in 2016 and 2018.
The Canadian women have qualified for the six previous editions of the FIFA-U-17 Women's World Cup, highlighted by a fourth-place finish in 2018 when they downed Germany 1-0 in the quarterfinals before falling 1-0 to Mexico in the semifinal. Canada lost 2-1 to New Zealand in the third-place game.
Forward Jordyn Huitema, now with Paris Saint-Germain, captained that 2018 Canadian team with Rhian Wilkinson, now in charge of the NWSL Portland Thorns, as coach.
Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand and host India have already qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Canada finished third at the recent CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship in the Dominican Republic, qualifying for the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Costa Rica later this year in Costa Rica.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 1, 2022
The Canadian Press