A First for Women's Soccer - The Abbotsford Times
For the third time this season, Sophie Schmidt and the Canadian women's soccer team took the No. 1 ranked team from the U.S.A. to the edge, only to come away with the same bitter taste of defeat.
On Friday morning, while the skies opened and the rain poured down from the sky, turning Shanghai Stadium into one gigantic puddle, the U.S. and Canada went toe-to-toe in the women's Olympic quarter-final.
It was a game in which Canada had been outplayed for the most part, but the players stuck around long enough to give supporters a feeling of optimism.
There they stood, tied 1-1 with the American squad in a game for which even most Canadians would have predicted a U.S. win.
It was just another chapter in a rivalry with our neighbours and good friends to south that is beginning to extend beyond the hockey rink.
In April, the Canadians suffered a shoot-out loss to the U.S. at the Olympic qualifier in Mexico.
It was a game in which Canada, like they had on Friday, just hung around in. One can argue that they had no business being in that game, but others will argue, and rightfully so, that no matter how badly one team outplays the other, the only stat worth anything is the score.
In June, a late goal gave the U.S. a 1-0 victory over Canada at the Peace Cup in South Korea.
While expectations weighed heavy on the Americans, the Canadian club played with heart in Friday's soccer match right until the end.
But in the 101st minute, Natasha Kai scored to give the U.S. a 2-1 lead in overtime, a heartbreaker for Canada.
It was a lead that the U.S. would not surrender, as they advanced to the semifinal of the women's soccer tournament.
As painful as Friday morning's loss may have been for the Canadian women's soccer team, which had come into that game with such confidence due to the fact that they had played the Americans so closely and that perhaps it was their time, these Olympics were a success.
The Canadian women were one goal short of pulling off one of the bigger upsets of the Olympics, had they scored to knock off the U.S.
The Canadian team has made major strides with their program in the past year, sending a message that our female soccer program is on the rise.
And so 2008 has provided an opportunity of a lifetime for Abbotsford's Schmidt, who was unable to be reached before the Times deadline on Monday due to a hectic travel schedule.
The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing was the icing on the cake for Schmidt, as she started in every game for Canada, and endured every minute of the rainy quarter-final.
The 20-year-old midfielder has already captured a league title with the Vancouver Whitecaps women's team in 2006 and was also named B.C. Soccer Association Senior Female Player of the Year in 2007.
Schmidt didn't steal any of the headlines, but she was an integral part of the team that was one goal shy of the semifinals. And like her teammates, she got her feet wet, literally and figuratively, at these Olympics.
Their efforts at the Games will likely not go unnoticed when the torch is lit in London, England, for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
© Abbotsford Times 2008