01/20/2012 12:45 EST | Updated 03/20/2012 05:12 EDT

Sinclair gets off to good start as Canada romps to 6-0 victory over Haiti

VANCOUVER - It didn't take Christine Sinclair long to make her presence felt at the CONCACAF women's Olympic qualifying tournament.

Sinclair scored four goals and assisted on another as Canada opened the North American, Central American and Caribbean zone tournament with a 6-0 win over Haiti on Thursday night.

The Canadians got the strong start to the tourney that they were looking for in front of a crowd of 7,067 at BC Place Stadium.

"It was huge," said Sinclair of the importance of a good opening performance. "I think the first five, 10 minutes of the game were a little iffy just because of the nerves and the first game back at home in such a big tournament. "But we settled down very nicely, especially later on in that second half. We took the game away, so the second half was just sort of a walk-through."

Christina Julien and Kelly Parker also scored as Canada, ranked seventh in the world, dominated the 62nd-ranked Haitians from start to finish.

Canada is looking for a Games berth as a prelude to a strong Olympic showing after making an early exit from last year's World Cup.

The top two teams in the eight-team tournament will qualify for this summer's London Games.

"It was a great opening start for the team, obviously," said Canadian goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc, who made a couple of saves in the first half but was not seriously tested. "If the 'keeper doesn't have to do much, then we're fine. We're happy with it. That means the team's doing a great job ahead of us. I don't mind those type of games."

In earlier action, Costa Rica blanked Cuba 2-0.

Sinclair, a 28-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., quickly made an impact as she assisted on Julien's opening goal at the seven-minute mark and then added two goals of her own before half-time. She added two more in the second half, the last on a penalty-kick.

Earlier in the week, Canadian coach John Herdman said he wanted his club to create more room for Sinclair, and it did not take his side long to achieve that target with Sinclair playing as a withdrawn striker.

Herdman said Sinclair brought out the best in her teammates as they got a rare chance to play in front of a Canadian crowd and showed that she can rise to the occasion under any circumstances.

"Well done," he said. "She took the match ball home tonight. I think she'll cherish this one."

Sinclair gave Canada a 3-0 lead in the 44th minute as she put home a left-footed shot from about 12 yards out off a flick from Julien. Then Sinclair completed her hat trick with a highlight-reel goal in the 55th minute. Displaying Wayne Gretzky-like vision, Melissa Tancredi made an over-the-head backward pass to a charging Sinclair. She took the pass on her knee on the run, quickly grounded the ball and scored easily.

"It was a very unique goal," said Sinclair.

"I think you should have swapped them red shirts for yellow ones," added Herdman of his club. "It was starting to look like Brazil at times. Tank, unfortunately, she didn't get on the scoresheet tonight, but she was at the heart of a lot of good things. I think it shows the connection these girls have had over a good 10 years playing together. They just know where each other are going to be. I don't think you'll see many better goals than that in the tournament — really cool."

Tancredi downplayed the pass by contending Sinclair makes everything look good. Shortly after the goal, she was hurt on a hard tackle by Kenci Marceille that earned the Haitian defender a yellow card and left the game moments later. Before then, she forced starting goalkeeper Limage to make difficult saves on two difficult shots.

In the 64th minute, Limage was injured as she collided with teammate Samantha Brand as they both went up in the air for the ball. After lying on the ground in pain for a few minutes and being tended by trainers, Limage was carried off the pitch on a stretcher to the Haiti bench and taken to hospital by ambulance after the game. Haiti coach Ronald Luxieux said Limage suffered a suspected spinal injury.

Limage lives in Canada and plays for the University of Moncton.

"She's not the type of player to go off the field, so it doesn't look too good so far," said Haiti midfielder Kimberly Boulos.

Canada will face Cuba on Saturday in the next game for both teams.

Notes: Before the game, a moment of silence was held for freestyle skier Sarah Burke of Midland, Ont., who died Thursday of head injuries sustained nine days earlier during a training accident in Utah. ... Canada's Lauren Sesselman suffered a knee injury in a collision late in the first half and left early in the second half.