Kailen Sheridan eager to fill Canada goalkeeper shoes left by retired Labbé

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Canada women’s team goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan can’t stop smiling these days.

Last week, the 26-year-old from Pickering, Ontario, got engaged to her longtime girlfriend and the couple are hoping to tie the knot at the end of next year.

Things are going just as well on the field for Sheridan. She is enjoying a breakout season in the NWSL with the San Diego Wave, recording four shutouts as the expansion club sits in first place after 10 games.

Sheridan is also set to begin a major new chapter in her international career: that of the undisputed starting goalkeeper for the Canadian women’s team, which hosts South Korea on Sunday at Toronto’s BMO Field in an international friendly. That game serves as preparation for July’s CONCACAF W Championship in Mexico, which is the qualifying competition for the 2023 FIFA World Cup and the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The CONCACAF qualifiers will be Canada’s first major tournament since the retirement of veteran goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé in April. With Labbé out of the picture, it will now be up to Sheridan, who has 21 caps since her international debut in 2016, to help carry this team forward.

Coach Bev Priestman gave Sheridan a public vote of confidence last week when she named her roster for the South Korea match, reiterating that the number one goalkeeper job is in her hands.


Sheridan takes a selfie with her gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. (Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Do not make comparisons with Labbé


“I wouldn’t say it adds pressure, but it honestly gives me a lot of confidence that someone like Bev would say that and have a lot of confidence in her own opinion on it,” Sheridan told CBC Sports. “Ultimately, as much as I always want to perform and be the best I can be, now I want to give it my all for her and for the team.

“Bev taking a risk for me makes me want to play harder for her.”

For Sheridan, this moment has been a long time coming after serving as Labbé’s backup for six years. She has consistently been one of the best goalkeepers in the NWSL since she entered the league in 2017 from Clemson University. But her path to the starting job for Canada had been blocked by Labbé, who was one of the key figures on the gold medal team in Tokyo last summer.

Sheridan admits that he has “huge shoes to fill.”

“Steph was an incredible leader and the way she watches the game and reviews it, works with players off the field was so impressive, and that’s the biggest thing I’ll take away from working with her,” Sheridan said.

Fans and pundits alike will no doubt be interested to see if Sheridan can live up to the incredible standards set by Labbé, who earned the nickname “The National Minister of Defense” while playing for Canada.

For Sheridan, however, making such comparisons is an exercise in futility.

“I remember having an honest and insightful conversation with Steph where she said, ‘You shouldn’t compare yourself to me and I’m not going to compare myself to you.’ Because in the end, we were never going to be like each other, but there were things we could take from each other. That mindset was one of the reasons why she was seen as one of the best in the world and why she is who she is. she is her,” Sheridan said.

CLOCK | Sheridan makes a big saving:

Kailen Sheridan makes great saves in scoreless draw between Gotham FC and Red Stars

Kailen Sheridan of Whitby, Ontario, stopped every shot she faced as her NJ/NY Gotham FC team tied 0-0 with the Chicago Red Stars.

To Sheridan’s credit, he was never bitter about having to play second fiddle for so long or the lack of opportunities with Canada while Labbé was the starter. Instead, he maintained a philosophical attitude.

“It’s very easy to get upset about it. I’ve worked really hard with a mental performance coach and sports psychologists, and I’ve realized that getting upset is not going to benefit me in any way,” Sheridan said. “It’s not easy. It sucks, I won’t lie about it. It’s hard. I don’t think any goalkeeper sits here and says, ‘I’m happy to be sitting on the bench.'” We are all competitive and we want to be playing.

“The relationship you have with the other goalkeepers is so vital to creating that level of head within the team. If I hadn’t had a strong relationship with Steph, I might have been a little more bitter about it. But I have worked really hard on that side. mental”.

Aside from Sheridan, there are three other goalkeepers currently in camp with the Canadian team: Sabrina D’Angelo (11 caps) and youngsters Anna Karpenko and Lysianne Proulx. Sheridan is the most experienced of the quartet, which means it’s up to her to set the tone and continue to foster a culture of competition between goalkeepers that Labbé and fellow veteran Erin McLeod established.

“They created it and for me it’s about keeping it now because it worked so well for us,” Sheridan said. “Sabrina and I want that camaraderie but also that competitiveness, and to have that balance, and create that environment with the new goalkeepers, and set the standards of what it has to be for us to be successful.

“Steph and Erin laid the groundwork, so I don’t have to create anything. It’s just about maintaining it.”



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