Posted on August 9, 2012
COVENTRY, England — Diana Matheson scored in stoppage time to lift Canada to a 1-0 victory over France to earn the Olympic women’s bronze medal at the City of Coventry Stadium on Thursday.
It is the first Olympic soccer gold medal for the Canadian women, who avenged a 2-0 defeat to the French at the Cyprus Cup final in March.
“Christine [Sinclair, Canada captain] has a quote that you can’t be great until you achieve great things and getting a medal today was that great thing,” Canada coach John Herdman said.
“All credit to the girls and staff behind the scenes here. People forget there’s people outside of me and Christine working crazy hours to get this team ready and to get through that 90 minutes today.”
Sinclair was on cloud nine.
“I am in shock,” she said.” A group of us have been together a long time. We have experienced the highs and lows of international soccer. Nothing compares to this. I do not think any of us after last year’s World Cup would have thought this is possible.”
Only three days prior to the third-place match, Canada was emotionally and physically drained from a controversial 4-3 loss to the United States in the semifinals.
“We’ve said all along the tournament is going to have twists and turns,” Herdman said. “You get luck and you don’t get luck, that’s the beauty of tournaments that makes them really interesting.
“That’s where I’ve got to take my hat off to the girls. They could have easily got caught up in all the emotion and the hype around that game but they stayed on task.”
On the winning goal, Sophie Schmidt sent a cross into the area that hit a defender to Matheson, who headed it into the net.
“It feels amazing,” Matheson said. :It feels unreal. It feels like a dream.
“I’m glad I did [score], I don’t think I could play another 30 [minutes of extra-time].”
Herdman did, too.
“Diana Matheson could have been standing on the halfway line waiting to defend another attack but she wasn’t, she was where she needed to be,” Herdman said. “It tells you how this team has shifted another level.”
The Canadians were forced to defend for long stretches in the match. Goalkeeper Erin McLeod was forced to make a point-blank save on an Eloidie Thomas shot in the 26th minute and pushed away a Louisa Necib attempt in the 48th minute.
“Today she proved that if she is not the best goalkeeper in the world, she should be in the discussion,” Sinclair said. “She kept our team in it. . . . She saved our butts so many times today it is incredible.”
The French weren’t finished as they twice hit the woodwork within a minute, first by Marie-Laure Delie in the 61st minute and Thomas in the 62nd minute.
With two minutes remaining in regulation, Eugeine Le Sommer sent a header wide before Matheson performed her heroics.
Photo: It certainly was better late than never for Diana Matheson on Thursday. Scott Bales/YCJ
Categories: Canada, North America, Olympic Qualifying, Women
Tags: 2012 London Olympics, Christine Sinclair, Diana Matheson, John Herdman, Sophie Schmidt