Unless you’ve been totally ignoring the Olympics, you know Canada’s women’s soccer team lost 4-3 in extra time – mere minutes away from going to penalty kicks – to its closest, fiercest rival, the United States.
You know Canada was going up against the team ranked No. 1 in the world, a country that has won the last two Olympic women’s soccer gold medals, and hasn’t lost to Canada since 2001, a span of 43 games.
It was a game Canada wasn’t supposed to keep close, let alone lead three times.
Christine Sinclair – who is always compared as the Wayne Gretzky of Canadian women’s soccer – scored three times and Canada was 10 minutes away from surely it’s biggest win in national team history, and a spot in the gold medal match against the reigning World Cup holders, Japan.
But a suspicious delay of game penalty called by the Norwegian referee against Canadian keeper Erin McLeod, followed by an even more suspicious hand ball call against defender Marie Eve Nault in the box on the ensuring free kick, led to the U.S. scoring the tying goal on a penalty kick.
Canadians from Vernon to St. John’s, Nfld., were livid over the calls. The players were stunned. The coaches were shocked.
The ref’s calls and the final result aside, Monday’s match will likely set off a boom for women’s soccer in this country. It was a classic game, one of the most entertaining matches of all time.
And that boom could grow bigger if Canada wins the bronze medal Thursday.
A result this inspiring, hard-working group of athletes so richly deserves.
– Vernon Morning Star