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Las Ticas beat Mexico to make semifinals of Olympic qualifiers

Just a few days after starting Olympic qualifying play with a 5-0 loss to the United States, Las Ticas are one win away from making it to Rio de Janeiro for their first ever Olympic games.

Monday’s 2-1 win over Mexico lifts the Costa Rica women’s soccer team to the final four in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying, where it awaits a match with Canada on Friday. Rising forward Raquel Rodríguez, the women’s NCAA player of the year, scored both of Costa Rica’s goals in the decisive victory that gives Las Ticas a chance to make history.

After scoring a hat trick in the rout over Puerto Rico on Saturday, Rodríguez came back with an early goal in the ninth minute against Mexico.

The 22-year-old Rodríguez scored again on a penalty kick in the 57th minute that came after she was tripped in the box by a Mexican defender. Her five goals are the most of any player in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying group stages.

Mexico’s Maribel Dominguez kept the game alive with a ridiculous bicycle-kick goal in the 79th minute and then sent a seismic scare into Las Ticas when she careened uncontested down the sidelines in extra time before barely missing a shot that sailed far right of the net.

Las Ticas qualify to the semifinals as the second-place finisher of Group A, where they will play Canada, the first-place finisher of Group B. The winner automatically qualifies for the Olympics as one of the top-two CONCACAF teams. Though Costa Rica will get to avoid the United States, which it has yet to beat in 13 matches, it has a daunting challenge ahead of it with the Canadians. The two-time CONCACAF champions earned bronze in the 2012 Olympics.

Costa Rica and Canada will kick off Friday at 4:30 p.m. Costa Rica time from BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas for a spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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