Fri, September 20, 2013

Erin McLeod steps up for Canada

By CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency


France's Corine Franco (R) shoots at Canada's goalkeeper Erin Mcleod (L) next to Canada's midfielder Kaylyn Kyle (L) and Canada's midfielder Sophie Schmidt (13) during the women's football football match for bronze of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the City of Coventry stadium on August 9, 2012 in Coventry. Canada defeated France 1-0. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA


COVENTRY, ENGLAND - Canada’s Melissa Tancredi thinks she has an explanation for the flawless goaltending display by goaltender Erin McLeod Thursday.

McLeod saw France attempt 25 shots at the Canadian net in the 1-0 win that netted the Canadians a bronze medal.

“What a time for her to step up,” said Tancredi. “I think she has two Achilles in each leg. She was up in the air just dominating. It’s unbelievable. She stepped up for us and was the leader we needed her to be.”

After splitting the first two games of the Olympic tournament with Karina Leblanc, McLeod, the 29-year-old from St. Albert, Alta., took over the job the rest of the way. She was in the middle of Monday’s controversial loss to the Americans when she was whistled for the rarely-called time wasting, but bounced back Thursday to carry Canada to the win.

She was also helped by a couple of teammates clear away balls that looked destined for the back of the net.

“I’d like to take all the credit but there were a couple of other ’keepers. It’s easier when you have more than one in there,” said McLeod. “At the end of the day, this team is the most resilient team I’ve ever been a part of and I think it showed. They were coming in waves, but we stuck to our guns and we came out with a win.”

“Erin gets looked over in the discussion of world’s best goaltender. I don’t understand why,” said Canadian captain Christine Sinclair. “Today she proved if she’s not the best goalkeeper in the world, she should be in the discussion. She kept our team in it.”

Sinclair said McLeod’s value goes beyond what we see on the pitch.

“She’s the most amazing teammate. She’s a leader on this team,” said Sinclair. “Even after that first game against Japan, you knew she was going to bounce back. She doesn’t get down for too long. She saved our butts so many times today, it’s just incredible.”

Her best save Thursday came on a redirection that caught her going to her right. She dove to her left and got her left hand on it.

“I’ve had a blind belief in this team for 11 years,” said McLeod, “and here we are, finally.”

McLeod was looking forward to singing their team’s victory song, Celine Dion’s “The Power of Love.”

“We’ll be doing that on the bus,” she said.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson