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Victoria's Ashley Cathro on Canadian soccer roster for Mexico games

Canada head coach Bev Priestman reacts during the women's international friendly soccer match between England and Canada in Stoke on Trent, England, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Rui Vieira

Bev Priestman, head coach of the defending Tokyo Olympic champion Canadian women’s soccer team, knows well the adage about those who rest on their laurels. She doesn’t intend to. The gaze is already upon the 2024 Paris Olympics with Ashley Cathro of Victoria among those players being brought along into the mix.

The 21-year-old Cathro was selected to the national team for the two-game set against world No. 28 Mexico, which began with an upset 2-1 loss to the Mexicans over the weekend in Mexico City, and concludes with the ­second game today.

“It’s been a great experience and a new opportunity to learn and grow,” said Cathro, who represented Canada in the 2016 FIFA U-17 World Cup and 2018 CONCACAF U-20 championship.

“The training sessions alone have been highly beneficial,” added the Prospect Lake and Island Wave product, a junior who plays NCAA Div. 1 in the Big Ten for the University of Illinois Fighting Illini.

“I know Bev Priestman from when she coached me on the U-17 and U-20 national teams so that has made this transition up to the national team roster much easier.”

Cathro dressed but did not make it off the bench in the first game in Mexico. The loss ended a 12-game Canadian unbeaten streak. The joy in the Mexican team was palpable. With the mantle of Olympic champion comes a target on the back. It’s not a position Canada is wholly comfortable with after always doing the chasing.

“We can’t be the hunted. We’re not used to being the hunted. We need to be the hunters,” Priestman said in a Zoom call Monday with the Canadian sports media.

After such a golden year, Priestman knows there can only be one acceptable outcome today.

“We can’t end this year on a loss to Mexico,” she said.

“We need intensity and focus to come away with a result.”