Jessica Lisi of the Memphis women’s soccer team was selected to represent her native country of Canada at the 2018 CONCACAF U-20 Championship.
“One of the greatest honors is to rep my country,” Lisi said. “Seeing my Canadian kit (jersey) in the locker room is humbling. It was my dream to do this from a young age. So to be able to fulfill that dream is special.”
The tournament spanned from Jan. 18 to 28 and all matches were played in Couva, Trinidad and Tobago, at the Ato Bolden Stadium.
Canada, Costa Rica, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States all participated. The eight nations were divided into two groups and the top two teams from groups A and B moved onto the knockout stage.
The two victorious teams in the knockout stage qualify for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup to compete for the championship. The two that lost in the knockout stage play for third place, and the winner receives the final World Cup qualification bid.
Lisi and Les Rouges looked to have the strongest team in the tournament after the group stage. The Canadians won every group stage match by two goals or more, and posted a tournament-best +9 goal differential. The Canadians have not won the competition since 2008 when they defeated the U.S. 1-0.
Lisi’s skills were tested at the group stage, as she was forced to play out of her normal midfield position. She is listed as a forward on the U-20 roster, but Bev Priestman, the Canadian Women’s U-20 manager, had other plans for Lisi.
Priestman subbed Lisi in at left back in the 3-1 win over Costa Rica. Lisi started the next match at the same position and completed 91 percent of her passes in a 4-1 win over Trinidad and Tobago.
“I played fullback, and that was a change that I had to make. You have to know your strengths and weaknesses,” Lisi said on her position change. “Playing internationally helped me focus on modifying my playing style. Competing against people of a different style is helpful for my growth as a player.”
The Canadians struggled to preserve their momentum from the group stage into the knockout stage. Les Rouges matched up with Mexico in the semifinals.
Gabrielle Carle, Canadian captain, netted the equalizing goal in the 80th minute, and the match went to penalty kicks. With a CONCACAF U-20 final and a World Cup qualification spot on the line, the Canadians fell to Mexico in penalty kicks.
The loss meant Lisi and her Canadian teammates would have one more opportunity to qualify for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
They faced Haiti for the third and final World Cup qualification spot. Haiti won 1-0 and made history by receiving their first-ever bid to the U-20 Women’s World Cup.
The tournament will most likely be Lisi’s last in the Canadian U-20 uniform because she turns 20 this year, but her time as a Tiger is far from over.
The sophomore recently completed her second season as a member of the Memphis women’s soccer team and she has already made an impact. Lisi earned American Athletic Conference All-Conference Second Team honors both seasons as a Tiger. The Woodbridge, Ontario, native has played 1,541 minutes and accumulated 36 points, 11 goals and 14 assists in her two seasons as a Tiger.
Lisi embarks on her junior season this fall, but she recently returned to campus and started training with the team for the upcoming spring matches. The 2018 Memphis women’s fall soccer schedule will be announced later, but the season will commence mid-August.
Jessica Lisi steps into a free kick shot in the Tigers 2-1 win versus UAB. Lisi represented Canada in the 2018 CONCACAF U-20 Championship
Jessica Lisi attempts a cornerkick. As a freshman she set a school record in assists with nine.