Semiahmoo Peninsula residents refocus after ‘bizarre’ officiating

Canada's Olympic women's soccer team will play for the bronze medal Thursday against France.

A member of the U.S. staff consoles Canada's Sophie Schmidt following the Americans' 4-3 victory in the Olympic semifinals on Monday. Below

Just a few days after one of the most exciting – and controversial – games in Canadian soccer history, Canada’s women’s national team will play Thursday for an Olympic bronze medal against France.

And while a medal of any colour would be an accomplishment for the Canadian women’s team – which has never medalled at the Summer Olympics – the team is still reeling from a tough 4-3 extra-time loss to the top-ranked U.S. in Monday’s semifinal.

“We were well and truly robbed,” said Peninsula resident Maeve Glass, who is in London serving as the team’s equipment manager, in an email to Peace Arch News Tuesday.

Against the Americans, No. 7-ranked Canada – led by Burnaby’s Christine Sinclair, who notched a hat-trick – led the game for all but the last 30 seconds of overtime. They were on their way to the upset victory until, with 11 minutes to go in regular time, goalkeeper Erin McLeod was whistled for a rarely called delay-of-game penalty, which gave the U.S. a free kick at the top of the box.

On the ensuing kick, the ball went off the elbow of Canadian defender Marie-Eve Nault, and Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen called for a penalty kick, which Abby Wambach converted to tie the game, 3-3.

In extra time, American Alex Morgan scored on a header with just 30 seconds remaining.

It was a heartbreaking loss for Team Canada, and the sting of the defeat – and the penalty-kick call – left players and coaches venting to media and in social-media circles post-game.

Canadian head coach John Herdman, also a Peninsula resident, called the officiating “bizarre.”

The team’s criticism of the officiating even led to a FIFA investigation of the comments, and for a time it was rumoured some players and coaches may be suspended for the bronze-medal match. However, on Wednesday, it was announced by FIFA that disciplinary action would not come before the game.

On Tuesday, Herdman seemed refocused on his team’s upcoming tilt, and went so far as to guarantee a win.

“They’ve come to see the flag rise,” Herdman said.

“That’s the job. They came here for that and the job is not finished. They’ll be disappointed tonight because it won’t be gold or silver, but we’ll take a medal from this tournament.”

Another Peninsula Olympian, South Surrey native Richard Weinberger, will compete in the 10-km men’s open-water swim Saturday, at London’s Hyde Park.

Weinberger, who now lives in Victoria, is among the world’s top marathon swimmers. Last summer, he placed first in an exhibition event on the Olympic course.

Another swimmer, White Rock’s Hillary Caldwell, swam the 200-m backstoke last week, but did not advance to the finals.

“Not the morning I had hoped for. I can’t honestly say what happened, just not my race I guess. Big thanks for all the support,” she posted on Twitter on Aug. 2.

Later in the week, after Canadian Rose McLennan’s gold-medal win on the trampoline and Mission’s Ryan Hayden won silver in the pool, Caldwell tweeted again.

“So great to hear our national anthem played in London! Giving me chills!”

Last week, White Rock’s Christine Girard made history by winning Canada’s first-ever Olympic medal in women’s weightlifting, after claiming bronze in the 63-kg division.

At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Girard finished just off the podium, in fourth.

“Since then I have spent the past four years training through injuries and various changes in my life to get to this moment… Getting this bronze medal makes sense of the last four years,” Girard told CTV after the competition.

– with files from Abbotsford News

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