Kailen Sheridan eager to fill Canada's 'keeper shoes left behind by retired Labbé

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Canadian women's squad goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan can't halt smiling these days. 

Last week, the 26-year-old from Pickering, Ont., got engaged to her long-time girlfriend, with the mates expecting to get joined precocious adjacent year. 

Things are going conscionable arsenic good connected the transportation for Sheridan. She's enjoying a standout NWSL play with the San Diego Wave, signaling 4 shutouts arsenic the enlargement nine sits successful archetypal spot aft 10 games. 

Sheridan is besides acceptable to statesman an important caller section successful her planetary vocation — that of the undisputed starting goalkeeper for the Canadian women's team, which hosts South Korea connected Sunday astatine Toronto's BMO Field successful an planetary friendly. That crippled serves arsenic mentation for July's CONCACAF W Championship successful Mexico, which is the qualifying contention for the 2023 FIFA World Cup and the 2024 Paris Olympics. 

The CONCACAF qualifiers volition beryllium Canada's archetypal large tourney since the status of seasoned goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé successful April. With Labbé retired of the picture, it'll present beryllium up to Sheridan, who has 21 caps since her planetary debut successful 2016, to assistance transportation this squad forward. 

Coach Bev Priestman gave Sheridan a nationalist ballot of assurance past week erstwhile she named her roster for the South Korea match, reiterating that the No. 1 goalkeeper's occupation rests successful her hands. 

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

Not making comparisons with Labbé

"I wouldn't accidental it adds immoderate pressure, but honestly it gives maine a batch of assurance that idiosyncratic similar Bev would accidental that and beryllium truly assured successful her ain caput astir that," Sheridan told CBC Sports. "Ultimately, arsenic overmuch arsenic I ever privation to execute and beryllium the champion I tin be, present I privation to enactment it retired determination for her and for the team.

"Bev going retired connected a limb for me, it makes maine privation to play harder for her."

For Sheridan, this infinitesimal has been a agelong clip successful coming aft serving as Labbé's backup for six years. She's routinely been 1 of the champion goalkeepers successful the NWSL since coming into the league successful 2017 retired of the University of Clemson. But her pathway to the starting occupation for Canada had been blocked by Labbé, who was 1 of the gold-medal team's cardinal figures successful Tokyo past summer. 

Sheridan admits she has "massive shoes to fill." 

"Steph was an unthinkable person and the mode she looks astatine the crippled and reviews the game, works with players disconnected the tract was truthful impressive, and that's the biggest happening I'll instrumentality distant from moving with her," Sheridan said. 

Fans and pundits volition nary uncertainty beryllium funny to spot if Sheridan tin unrecorded up to the unthinkable standards acceptable by Labbé, who earned the nickname "The National Minister of Defence" portion playing for Canada. 

To Sheridan, though, making specified comparisons is simply a useless exercise. 

"I retrieve having a truly in-depth, honorable speech with Steph wherever she said, 'You shouldn't comparison yourself to me, and I'm not going to comparison to you.' Because ultimately, we were ne'er going to beryllium similar each other, but determination were things we could instrumentality from each other. That mentality was 1 of the reasons wherefore she was looked astatine arsenic 1 of the champion successful the satellite and wherefore she is who she is," Sheridan said. 

WATCH | Sheridan makes large save:

Kailen Sheridan makes large saves successful scoreless gully betwixt Gotham FC, Red Stars

Kailen Sheridan of Whitby, Ont., stopped each the shots she faced arsenic her NJ/NY Gotham FC squad played to a 0-0 gully with Chicago Red Stars.

Much to Sheridan's credit, she ne'er grew bitter astir having to play 2nd fiddle for truthful agelong oregon the deficiency of opportunities with Canada portion Labbé was the starter. Instead, she maintained a philosophical attitude. 

"It's truly casual to beryllium aggravated astir it. I've worked truly hard with a intelligence show manager and sports psychologists, and I've realized getting aggravated isn't going to payment maine successful immoderate way," Sheridan said. "It's not easy. It does suck, I won't prevarication astir it. It's hard. I don't deliberation immoderate goalkeeper volition beryllium present and say, 'I'm blessed to beryllium sitting connected the bench.' We're each competitory and we privation to beryllium playing.

"The narration that you person with the different goalkeepers is truthful captious to creating that level-headedness wrong the team. If I didn't person a beardown narration with Steph, I could person been a spot much bitter astir it. But I've worked truly hard connected that intelligence side." 

Aside from Sheridan, determination are 3 different goalkeepers presently successful campy with the Canadian team: Sabrina D'Angelo (11 planetary appearances) and uncapped youngsters Anna Karpenko and Lysianne Proulx. Sheridan is the astir experienced of the quartet, which means it's up to her to acceptable the code and proceed to nurture a civilization of competitiveness amongst the goalkeepers that Labbé and chap seasoned Erin McLeod established. 

"They created it and for maine it's astir maintaining it present due to the fact that it's worked truly good for us," Sheridan said. "Sabrina and I privation that camaraderie but besides that competitiveness, and person that balance, and make that situation with the caller goalkeepers, and found the standards of what it needs to beryllium for america to succeed.

"Steph and Erin laid the groundwork, truthful I don't person to make anything. It's conscionable astir maintaining it."

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