Canada win Olympic bronze!
Diana Matheson's 92nd-minute, stoppage-time goal led Canada to a 1-0 bronze-medal victory over France in women's soccer at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
This is Canada's first medal in a traditional summer team sport since picking up a silver medal in basketball at the Berlin Games in 1936.
As time was set to expire in the second half, former Vancouver Whitecaps FC midfielder Sophie Schmidt broke in on goal and fired a shot that was deflected away by a French defender.
Following up on the play, Matheson found the loose ball in the box and fired it into an open net to earn Canada the victory.
"It feels amazing, we felt as a group that we were going to earn this and we did in the last minute," said Matheson. "Our goal coming in was to be on the podium and we had the perfect opportunity to do that, that is what we were focused on."
She also feels this victory could be big for the future of soccer in the country.
"It means so much to us, we came in wanting to leave a legacy for Canadian soccer and I think we did that," said Matheson.
Canadian captain and former Whitecaps FC striker Christine Sinclair, the tournament's leading scorer with six, is proud of the way her teammates competed in the bronze-medal match.
"It’s been a long battle on this national team and John (Herdman) came on board and completely changed it, I’m just so proud of this team," said Sinclair. "We battled through exhaustion today and came out on top."
The winning goal came after a 90-minute contest that was dominated by a France side that never looked to be in danger of losing the game.
Wave after wave of French attack was turned away by goalkeeper Erin McLeod and the Canadian defensive backline.
Twice in a one-minute span, France rattled the ball off the Canadian woodwork coming close to taking the lead.
Both Gaetane Thiney and Elodie Thomis found enough space to fire open shots at the attacking goal, but both were turned away by the frame of the goal.
In fact, France fired 25 shots towards the Canadian goal, compared to just four for the Canadian side.
"Today, (McLeod) proved that if she is not the best goalkeeper in the world, she should be in the discussion," said Sinclair. "She kept our team in it. She is the most amazing teammate. She is a leader. She saved our butts so many times today, it is incredible."
For her part, McLeod was happy to see the improvements her team made over the course of the competition.
"At the beginning of the tournament, we played well but I think we've raised the bar as we've gone through," said McLeod. "We've got better as we went on. I'm so proud of the way we've played. I'm so proud of everybody."
The majority of the French attack took place in the second half of the game, as the Canadian team hung on under incredible pressure from their opponents.
Though Canada did not generate many scoring chances in the game, there were many members of the team that played a physical defensive style up and down the pitch to help secure the victory. Former Whitecaps FC striker Jonelle Filigno was one of those players, and after the game, she was very happy to be on the right said of a late game result.
"To be honest, I don’t even think it has real hit me yet, words just can’t describe," said Filigno. "It was a heartbreak against the U.S., so just to come back from that and win the bronze medal for our country feels like a gold to us."
Canada's head coach John Herdman - who played 10 former members of the Whitecaps FC women’s team in Thursday’s bronze-medal match - felt his team answered everything asked of them coming off an emotional semifinal defeat to claim the bronze.
"It was a hell of a game the other night, the big question was could they repeat that? Could they get up again? And to be fair, we wobbled for long times, but out half back four, Erin, Desi Scott, they were just remarkable and to see Sophie Schmidt covering the ground, they were possessed," Herdman said.
"You know France, all credit to them, they were outstanding, they were the better team for periods, but you got to put the ball in the back of the net and we weren't going to let them do that today." Herdman also had a message for the next generation of Canadian soccer players.
"I just hope those young kids out there watching never give up," said Herdman. "Never give up and you'll see what resilience and commitment will do for you. It's a hell of a game and you've got to be proud of your girls and I'm hoping a couple of them will get up off their bums today, put the football boots on, and be ready for 2024."