Ashley Lawrence had a lot of dedications to make after opening her goalscoring account for Canada on Monday.
“It’s for my family, my friends and for Canada,” she exclaimed, making her tenth-minute strike against the Netherlands go a long, long way.
It was no ordinary goal, however, not when it came in a FIFA World Cup™ match in her home country and ultimately secured the Canadians the point that took them into the last 16 as group winners.
“It’s surreal, an incredible feeling. I can’t explain it,” she told FIFA.com, trying to put her emotions into words.
Despite only turning 20 a matter of days ago, the attacking midfielder is already a seasoned campaigner on the international front, having represented her country at two FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup competitions and captained the Canada side that contested last year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup on home soil.
In making the step up to the senior side, however, Lawrence has gone from being a leader to a junior player with a lot still to learn, though she is working hard to pick up everything she can from her team-mates, not least Canucks skipper Christine Sinclair.
“She tells us to focus on the process,” explained the youngster. “Not everything is going to go right for you in a game. You’re going to make a bad pass or the wrong move, but you can’t let that affect the rest of your work. You have to keep going and you have to make the next step.”
Lawrence has been making that next step since first kicking a ball at the age of five.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else because that feeling of freedom I have on a football pitch is something I don’t get anywhere else,” said the pacy West Virginia University midfielder.
With 21 full international appearances to her name already, Lawrence has fulfilled a dream and is proud to have scored such an important goal for her country. That sense of personal achievement did not stop her from sharing the moment with her team-mates, however:
“When I scored I ran to the dugout because I wanted to celebrate it with everyone. We’ve got a very strong team spirit and we all support each other on and off the pitch.”
A sports psychology student, Lawrence is developing an interest in the business world, though her focus right now is on helping Canada sharpen up their game for the challenges that lie ahead in the knockout phase.
Having overcome the nerves of playing before large and expectant crowds in the group phase, the Canadians will now be returning to Vancouver, where they have spent the last two years preparing for their bid for glory.
Pleased to have helped the Canucks get the job done in Group A, Lawrence heaved a sigh of relief: “Now that we’re feeling calmer, we’ll do some fine-tuning and get ready for the next adventure.”