VANCOUVER, British Columbia – VCU junior defender Karol Sanchez and freshman midfielder Cristin Granados are attempting to make history tonight. The duo, which plays on the Costa Rican women's national team, will square off against the United States in the semifinals of the regional qualifying tournament, with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the 2012 London Olympics.
Costa Rica has never qualified for the Olympics in women's soccer, and Sanchez and Granados are hoping to change that. The match is set to begin at 5 p.m., and will be streamed online at universalsports.com and CONCACAF.com.
The heavily favored American squad has outscored the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Mexico 31-0 in its first three matches, and reaches the semifinals of the qualifying tournament undefeated. Costa Rica, meanwhile, picked up a pair of 2-0 wins against Cuba and Haiti, before falling to host Canada 5-1 on Jan. 23. Sanchez and Granados have both seen action so far.
The Costa Rican duo made a splash in its first season at VCU last fall, helping the Rams take a 10-match unbeaten streak into the Colonial Athletic Association title game.
Sanchez was named CAA Defensive Player of the Year after anchoring a VCU backline that surrendered just 15 goals, while posting 10 shutouts. The Rams were particularly strong in conference play, recording a league-best 0.43 goals against average versus CAA foes.
Granados, meanwhile, became the first VCU player to ever receive CAA Rookie of the Year honors. She tied for the team lead with six goals and led the Rams with 14 points and three game-winning scores. Five of Granados' six goals came in CAA play, including game-winning tallies against UNCW, Georgia State and Old Dominion.
Friday night will mark the third consecutive time Costa Rica will face the United States in the semifinals of the Olympic qualifying tournament.