Tokyo soccer semifinal pits Canada against the U.S. again, and the Americans just might be beatable

The London 2012 Olympics was a coming-out party for the Canadian women’s soccer team. In capturing the country’s first medal — bronze — in a traditional team sport since 1936, the team also captured the hearts of a nation. That group of enchanted supporters included the likes of Ashley Lawrence, Jessie Fleming, Jordyn Huitema and many of their colleagues on the current Canadian team, which will face the United States in a rematch of a devastating semifinal loss nine years ago.“Just really experiencing that through the TV at home with my family, I just remember watching every game, making sure that, 30 minutes before kickoff, everything was set up and that I didn’t miss one minute. It was just so cool and really rare to have experienced,” Lawrence told Sportsnet’s “Top of Her Game” earlier this year. Canada’s squad in London, led by newly appointed head coach John Herdman, did not arrive as a medal favourite after finishing last at the previous Olympics. But support had swelled by the time Canada faced the U.S. in the tournament semifinal, a match since dubbed “the greatest game of women’s soccer ever played.” The 122-minute affair ended in a 4-3 loss for the underdog Canadians, who felt like the result was taken from them after some perplexing decisions by Norwegian referee Christina Pedersen, including a rarely called six-second violation against Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod in the 78th minute that turned into a free kick which, in turn, elicited a penalty call, giving the Americans the tying goal and a lifeline to an eventual victory.Messages of encouragement started flowing from Canada to Manchester, England, in the aftermath of the loss. Players began realizing the impression they were making back home. A last-gasp win against France in the bronze-medal game days later further endeared Canadians to the team and turned players such as captain Christine Sinclair and midfielder Diana Matheson, who scored the goal that got Canada on the podium, into household names.Fleming, 14 at the time and making her debut in the Canada youth program, remembers watching on television with her father, understanding that she was seeing something extraordinary, something she might eventually be able to do herself. Huitema, too, knew she wanted to be a part of that kind of thrilling contest. Sixteen of the 18 players on Canada’s current squad who did not play in London would have been between 11 and 18 years old at the time.Impressionable ages, to be sure. So while the motivation for Monday’s match will be clear for London 2012 veterans McLeod, Sinclair, Desiree Scott and Sophie Schmidt, it will also be personal to the team’s younger players. Managing that emotion will be key this time around. The Canadians can be at their best when playing with a chip on their shoulder, and that chip should be apparent on Monday. But the team can’t let a sense of redemption for 2012 overwhelm them.This might be Canada’s best chance at beating the U.S. The world’s No. 1 team hasn’t looked itself over the course of the Games. The Americans, for once, look beatable, lacking their normal sharpness and cohesion. If the Canadians are able to hold their line against the wealth of attacking options the U.S. boasts and get creative players like Nichelle Prince and Lawrence running at defenders like Kelley O’Hara, there’s a chance to turn the tables.Emotion is what drew many Canadians to the team in 2012. Lawrence remembers seeing Sinclair’s love and passion for the game during the semifinal against the U.S. It was why Lawrence played, too, why she still does, what inspired her to follow her soccer dreams. But keeping that in check Monday could drive the team to new heights, inspiring even more Canadians.Laura Armstrong is a Star sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @lauraarmy

Tokyo soccer semifinal pits Canada against the U.S. again, and the Americans just might be beatable

The London 2012 Olympics was a coming-out party for the Canadian women’s soccer team. In capturing the country’s first medal — bronze — in a traditional team sport since 1936, the team also captured the hearts of a nation.

That group of enchanted supporters included the likes of Ashley Lawrence, Jessie Fleming, Jordyn Huitema and many of their colleagues on the current Canadian team, which will face the United States in a rematch of a devastating semifinal loss nine years ago.

“Just really experiencing that through the TV at home with my family, I just remember watching every game, making sure that, 30 minutes before kickoff, everything was set up and that I didn’t miss one minute. It was just so cool and really rare to have experienced,” Lawrence told Sportsnet’s “Top of Her Game” earlier this year.

Canada’s squad in London, led by newly appointed head coach John Herdman, did not arrive as a medal favourite after finishing last at the previous Olympics. But support had swelled by the time Canada faced the U.S. in the tournament semifinal, a match since dubbed “the greatest game of women’s soccer ever played.” The 122-minute affair ended in a 4-3 loss for the underdog Canadians, who felt like the result was taken from them after some perplexing decisions by Norwegian referee Christina Pedersen, including a rarely called six-second violation against Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod in the 78th minute that turned into a free kick which, in turn, elicited a penalty call, giving the Americans the tying goal and a lifeline to an eventual victory.

Messages of encouragement started flowing from Canada to Manchester, England, in the aftermath of the loss. Players began realizing the impression they were making back home. A last-gasp win against France in the bronze-medal game days later further endeared Canadians to the team and turned players such as captain Christine Sinclair and midfielder Diana Matheson, who scored the goal that got Canada on the podium, into household names.

Fleming, 14 at the time and making her debut in the Canada youth program, remembers watching on television with her father, understanding that she was seeing something extraordinary, something she might eventually be able to do herself. Huitema, too, knew she wanted to be a part of that kind of thrilling contest. Sixteen of the 18 players on Canada’s current squad who did not play in London would have been between 11 and 18 years old at the time.

Impressionable ages, to be sure. So while the motivation for Monday’s match will be clear for London 2012 veterans McLeod, Sinclair, Desiree Scott and Sophie Schmidt, it will also be personal to the team’s younger players.

Managing that emotion will be key this time around. The Canadians can be at their best when playing with a chip on their shoulder, and that chip should be apparent on Monday. But the team can’t let a sense of redemption for 2012 overwhelm them.

This might be Canada’s best chance at beating the U.S. The world’s No. 1 team hasn’t looked itself over the course of the Games. The Americans, for once, look beatable, lacking their normal sharpness and cohesion. If the Canadians are able to hold their line against the wealth of attacking options the U.S. boasts and get creative players like Nichelle Prince and Lawrence running at defenders like Kelley O’Hara, there’s a chance to turn the tables.

Emotion is what drew many Canadians to the team in 2012. Lawrence remembers seeing Sinclair’s love and passion for the game during the semifinal against the U.S. It was why Lawrence played, too, why she still does, what inspired her to follow her soccer dreams. But keeping that in check Monday could drive the team to new heights, inspiring even more Canadians.

Laura Armstrong is a Star sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @lauraarmy

Source : Toronto Star More   

What's Your Reaction?

like
0
dislike
0
love
0
funny
0
angry
0
sad
0
wow
0

Next Article

Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant Sets Record, Example For US Olympic Men’s Hoops Team

Durant is the top scorer to ever wear the red, white and blue, a player who has been unstoppable on the international stage from the moment he arrived.

Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant Sets Record, Example For US Olympic Men’s Hoops Team

SAITAMA, Japan (AP) — Kevin Durant had been just ordinary so far in these Olympics.

That’s probably not good enough for gold.

Not on this U.S. men’s basketball team, an unproven and for now still unspectacular group.

Durant is the top scorer to ever wear the red, white and blue, a player who has been unstoppable on the international stage from the moment he arrived.

He finally showed that off again Saturday night with 23 points in the Americans’ 119-84 victory over the Czech Republic in their final game of group play.

“It’s literally our third game of all us together,” guard Jrue Holiday said, “but we knew KD would come in and do what he was supposed to do, do what he always does.”

And just what the U.S. needs.

The Americans are still learning each other and the international game, with differences from the NBA in the way it’s played and officiated.

Durant has already mastered it.

And now he can teach this group.

He doesn’t try to be a vocal leader, relying more on the way he plays and practices to set an example for his teammates.

Sure, the three-time Olympian shared some stories about the opening ceremonies or his other experiences to some of the newcomers, but he’s not about to talk their ear off about how to play what he calls a simple game.

“It’s basketball at the end of the day,” said Durant, who has played for the U.S. as well as anyone who had ever done it — if not better.

He now has 354 points in his 19 Olympic games (18.6 per game), surpassing the 336 that Carmelo Anthony scored in his four Olympics.

But Durant hadn’t been sharp yet in Japan, shooting just 4 for 12 in the opening loss to France and scoring 10 points in both games.

“I think it was just a matter of time,” Holiday said.

U.S. officials weren’t sure of their chances at the world basketball championships in 2010, after none of the veterans from the 2008 Olympic gold medalists opted to play and left the Americans with a number of players in their early 20s.

Durant averaged 22.8 points and won tournament MVP honors as the Americans won gold and he never slowed down once he made the Olympic roster two years later.

He scored 156 points in 2012 and 155 in 2016, finishing both tournaments with 30 points in the gold-medal game.

Though it would become a blowout, the Americans were trailing early into the second quarter Saturday before Durant heated up. His 3-pointer with 6:18 remaining broke Anthony’s record and he followed by hitting another on the next possession.

He kept rolling into the third quarter and by then his teammates had loosened up after their uneven start and surged into the quarterfinals with ease.

Durant is still a long way from the top scorers in Olympic history. Brazil’s Oscar Schmidt scored 1,093 points and Andrew Gaze of Australia had 789. Both of them appeared in five Olympics.

But Durant views himself as far more than a scorer, anyway. He finished with eight rebounds and six assists, both team highs, and also a blocked shot that started a fast break while playing inside for an undersized U.S. team.

In his first season back from a ruptured Achilles tendon that forced him to miss a season, Durant had to do it all for the Brooklyn Nets at the end of the playoffs. Even though Kyrie Irving and James Harden were both injured in the series, Durant carried the Nets to a Game 7 against eventual champion Milwaukee in the second round. He had 49 points and a triple-double in Game and 48 in Game 7.

He won’t have to score that much on this U.S. team, but he’s ready to do whatever is required.

“I’ve had a lot asked of me for every team I played for since I was 8 years old,” Durant said.

“I feel like I have to be prepared to do everything single thing on the court.”

That might just be what it takes.

(© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Source : CBS News York More   

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.