Fri, September 20, 2013

Canadians celebrate soccer bronze at Maple Leaf Pub

By BOB MACKIN, Special to QMI Agency


Christine Sinclair (left) and Desiree Scott of Canada celebrate their 1-0 win over Team France to win the women's Bronze medal soccer match at the London 2012 Olympic Games Thursday. AL CHAREST/QMI AGENCY


LONDON - For those who couldn’t get tickets or travel 150 kilometres into the West Midlands on Thursday, a seat at the Maple Leaf pub was the next best thing.

As Canada braved barrage after barrage of French attacks in the Olympic bronze medal women’s ssoccer match, the mostly Canadian crowd that packed the Canadian-themed pub in the Covent Garden area grew tense.

“I feel that we were robbed (in the semifinal),” said toque-wearing Jim Kiriakakis of Toronto, referring to Monday’s heartbreaking 4-3 semifinal loss to the United States. “All of Canada is rooting for them.”

“It’s pretty cool that we found a Canadian pub,” said Aisha Fawkes of Vancouver, among a group wearing Canada flags over their shoulders as patrons sipped Sleeman, Molson and Moosehead beer and watched the BBC Three telecast.

“It’s so hard to find tickets, it’d be nice to go,” added her friend Vicky Terzopoulos of Vancouver.

Calgary-born goalkeeper Erin McLeod got help from her posts and crossbars as France outshot Canada 25-4. Canada only needed one shot on target to win and it happened in stoppage time near the end of the second half.

Midfielder Diana Matheson of Oakville, Ont., successfully executed a give-and-go in the penalty area with Abbotsford, B.C.‘s Sophie Schmidt before 12,465 fans. One of the most-important goals in Canadian soccer history ended the country’s summer Olympic team sports medal drought that dated back to a basketball silver at Berlin 1936.

For diminutive Matheson, the bronze-winning goal was redemption. She missed the Olympic qualifying tournament in January in Vancouver because of knee surgery last November.

“I'm so excited. I was hoping we'd be able to put one in in the last minute,” said an elated Maddy Tye of Hamilton, Ont. “Our girls were pretty exhausted out there. I'm so proud of them. I'm thrilled.

“It's great to be in a place with like minded people,” Tye said. “The new coach (John Herdman) has done incredible things for them, their fitness and overall playing has improved. I'm really proud of them.”

Tye’s British boyfriend, Louis Cardone, said he was impressed by the quality of play offered by both Canada and the U.S. in the Olympic tournament.

“It’s completely underdeveloped in this country,” he said. “The North American level is far higher.”

It was Canada’s best women’s soccer showing in a multi-sport tournament since the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, where the team won gold. Galt F.C. represented Canada and won men’s soccer gold at St. Louis 1904. Eighty years later, in 1984, the Canadian men were eliminated in a quarterfinal shootout with Brazil.

Beijing 2008 champion United States and 2011 World Cup winner Japan were to meet in the final at Wembley Stadium.

Canada hosts the Women’s World Cup in 2015.