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The Globe and Mail

Canadian women rout Haiti to kick off Olympic qualifying tournament

Canada's Christine Sinclair (12) celebrates her goal over Haiti with teammates Rhian Wilkinson (7) and Christina Julien (10) during the first half of CONCACAF Women's Olympic qualifying soccer at B.C. Place in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012.


Christine Sinclair scored four goals and assisted on another as Canada opened the CONCACAF women's Olympic qualifying tournament with a 6-0 win over Haiti on Thursday night.

Christina Julien and Kelly Parker also scored as Canada, ranked seventh in the world, dominated the 62nd-ranked Haitians from start to finish.

Canada is looking for a Games berth as a prelude to a strong Olympic showing after making an early exit from last year's World Cup.

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The top two teams in the eight-team tournament will qualify for this summer's London Games.

In earlier action, Costa Rica blanked Cuba 2-0.

Sinclair, a 28-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., quickly made an impact as she assisted on Julien's opening goal at the seven-minute mark and then added two goals of her own before half-time. She added two more in the second half, the last on a penalty-kick.

The Canadians got the strong start they were looking for in front of a crowd of 7,067 at BC Place Stadium.

Earlier in the week, Canadian coach John Herdman said he wanted his club to create more room for Sinclair, and it did not take his side long to achieve that target.

Julien opened the scoring as Sinclair passed the ball across to her on a two-on-none against helpless Haiti starting goalkeeper Ednie Limage, who made several stops in the first half to keep the score closer than it could have been. Parker triggered the play by giving Sinclair a short lead pass from near the corner of Haiti's 18-yard box.

The Haitian goalkeeper foiled Melissa Tancredi on hard shots twice to limit Canada's lead. But Sinclair put the hosts ahead 2-0 in the 25th minutes as, beating Haiti's offside trap attempt, she took a pass from Rhian Wilkinson and put in a shot off Limage's leg.

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Haiti tried to get physical, often with Sinclair, earning several fouls. But the moves did little to help the overmatched Caribbean side. In the few times that Haiti did get the ball deep in Canada's zone, defenders quickly moved it back out.

Sinclair gave Canada a 3-0 lead in the 44th minute as she put home a left-footed shot from about 12 yards out off a flick from Julien. The goal came off a near broken play as Tancredi let Parker's pass from near the end line go by her and Julien had to scramble to get it to Sinclair.

The score might have been more lopsided, but Limage denied Tancredi on another shot, and the Canadian headed the ball over the crossbar on another dangerous chance.

Sinclair completed her hat trick with a highlight-reel goal in the 55th minute. Displaying Wayne Gretzky-like vision, Tancredi made an over-the-head backward pass to a charging Sinclair. She took the pass on her knee on the run, quickly grounded the ball and scored easily.

Shortly after the goal, Tancredi was hurt on a hard tackle by Kenci Marceille that earned the Haitian defender a yellow card. After briefly continuing to play, Tancredi subbed out.

In the 64th minute, Haitian goalkeeper Limage was injured as she collided with teammate Samantha Brand as they both went up in the air for the ball. After lying on the ground in pain for a few minutes and being tended by trainers, Limage was carried off the pitch on a stretcher to the Haiti bench area.

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She was replaced by Geralda Saintillius, who gave up the last goal of the game.

Canada was awarded a penalty-kick in the 85th minute after Julien was pulled down in the box as Sinclair sent her a lead pass over the heads of three defenders that were marking her. On the penalty kick, goalkeeper Saitnillius just stood and watched as Sinclair rolled a shot into the left corner of the net.

Parker rounded out the scoring in injury time as she put in her own rebound off the post.

Canada will face Cuba on Saturday in the next game for both teams.

Notes: Before the game, a moment of silence was held for freestyle skier Sarah Burke of Midland, Ont., who died Thursday of head injuries sustained nine days earlier during a training accident in Utah. ... Canada's Lauren Sesselman was injured in a collision late in the first half and replace by Chelsea Stewart early in the second half.

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