Kadeisha Buchanan is joining fellow Canadian international Ashley Lawrence in France.
The 21-year-olds, who have 109 caps for Canada between them, have played on the same team since they were nine years old in Brampton, Ont. Now the West Virginia University stars find themselves on different sides of a fierce French rivalry.
Olympique Lyonnais confirmed the signing of Buchanan, a powerful centre back, on Sunday. Lawrence, a talented fullback-midfielder, joined Paris Saint-Germain a week ago.
PSG currently leads the French standings with a 10-0-0 record. Lyon is second at 9-1-0, losing 1-0 to Paris Saint-Germain on Dec. 17. The two rivals are scheduled to meet again May 14 in league play.
Buchanan took in Lyon’s men’s French Cup match Sunday against Montpellier, with Olympique Lyonnais welcoming the Canadian to its powerhouse women’s team via Twitter.
“Welcome in the #teamOL @keishaballa!!,” said the team alongside a photo showing a smiling Buchanan, wearing Maple Leaf mittens, giving a thumbs up.
Lawrence, coincidentally, made her debut for PSG on Sunday, playing the first half of a 19-0 French Cup demolition of lower-division Bourges. Brazil’s Cristiane led the way with seven goals â€” in the fourth, 17th, 32nd, 55th, 56th, 63rd and 85th minutes.
After accepting the Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy as the top women’s NCAA player in St. Louis on Friday night, Buchanan arrived in Lyon on Sunday. She is slated to undergo a medical Monday.
American star Alex Morgan has also signed with Lyon, the reigning UEFA Women’s Champion League champion.
Buchanan joins current national team captain Christine Sinclair (Portland, 2004, ’05) as the only Canadian women to win the MAC Hermann Trophy award. Buchanan is also the first defender to win since Cat Reddick (North Carolina) in 2003.
Buchanan is a four-time NSCAA All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Buchanan started 90 of 91 career matches at West Virginia, missing the 2016 season opener because she was at the Olympics, where Canada won bronze.
In 2015, she was named best young player at the Women’s World Cup, made the shortlist for FIFA’s world player of the year and was voted Canadian female player of the year.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press