Former Whitecaps FC players lead Canadian women to Olympic semifinals
Former Vancouver Whitecaps FC players Jonelle Filigno and Christine Sinclair scored first-half goals to lead Canada to a 2-0 victory over hosts Great Britain in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Women's Olympic Football Tournament in Coventry, England.
Friday's win is Canada's first-ever semifinal berth at the Olympic women's soccer tournament. They will face arch-rivals and defending Olympic champions United States in Manchester, England, on Monday.
Unlike their final group game draw against Sweden, Canada started the quarterfinal in control from the opening kickoff.
In the 12th minute, Canadian forward Filigno got on the end of a corner from former Whitecaps FC midfielder Sophie Schmidt at the top of the box, and fired it into the top right hand corner of the net for Canada's winner.
Following the goal, the Canadians were able to maintain pressure on a Great Britain backline that was having trouble dealing with the pace of the attacking forwards.
Just 14 minutes after the opening goal, ex-'Caps midfielder Desiree Scott charged down the middle of the field and earned Canada a free kick just outside the Great Britain box.
Canadian captain Sinclair stepped up in the 26th minute and calmly fired a beautiful bending free kick into the net to the left of a motionless Karen Bardsley, the Great Britain goalkeeper who did not make a move towards the shot that was out of her reach.
The goal doubled Canada's advantage before the half and silenced a mostly partisan crowd of more than 28,000 at City of Coventry Stadium.
It was the Burnaby, BC, native's 140th international goal for Canada, moving her within two of American striker Abby Wambach for second on the all-time international women's soccer scoring list.
Following halftime, Canada's defensive play took over, with standout performances from defender Lauren Sesselmann and midfielder Scott, who were involved in breaking up many British attacks in their own half.
Former Whiecaps FC goalkeeper Erin McLeod got the call in the Canadian net, her third start and first win and clean sheet of the tournament. She was solid when called into action against Great Britain in the quarterfinal victory.
Great Britain's best offensive chances came late in the game, including an 85th-minute play in the box where forward Eniola Aluko went down under the challenge of Canadian defender Rhian Wilkinson and appealed for a penalty. Japanese referee Sachiko Yamagishi ruled that no infraction occurred on the play and the game was allowed to continue.
The hosts then created a scramble in front of McLeod's goal, but the St. Albert, Alberta, native was able to pounce on the ball to help preserve the clean sheet.
Nine former members of the Whitecaps FC women's team appeared in Friday's historic win in the West Midlands of England.
With the victory, Canada now advances to a semifinal showdown with the USA at Old Trafford - home of English Premier League giants Manchester United FC - on Monday.