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Rod Jerred

Rod Jerred

Soccer team was golden

Let’s try to focus on the positive.
As we watch the Canadian women’s soccer team compete for the bronze medal against France today, let’s not grumble about what might have been, or what should have been, if not for some questionable calls by a referee during Monday’s heartbreaking loss to Team USA.
Instead, win or lose, medal or no medal, let’s consider what this women’s team has accomplished — they made us care about soccer — and not just soccer, but women’s soccer.
On Monday, after Norwegian referee Christina Pederson called a questionable delay of game penalty against Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod, I unloaded a string of expletives at the television set not heard in the Jerred household since an umpire blew the call on Blue Jays third baseman Kelly Gruber’s triple play in Game 3 of the 1992 World series.
On Friday, I joined three male reporters in front of an office television as we watched Canada upset Great Britain 2-0 to move onto the semi-final match against the United States. (It was research, boss).
Maybe this is par for the Olympics.
Every four years, we find ourselves cheering for Canadian athletes in sporting events we normally don’t follow or even care about.
Count me among the culprits. Prior to the London Olympics, the only names of the Canadian women’s national team I was familiar with were Christine Sinclair and Diane Matheson.
I was unfamiliar with Melissa Tancredi, of Ancaster, until we started compiling a list of area Olympic athletes prior to the games in London.
The 30-year-old Tancredi, who started playing with the Ancaster Soccer Club as a youngster, is a veteran with Team Canada since 2004.
Now, she is practically a household name thanks to her scoring prowess in the games leading up to the Olympic semi-final match.
And while her teammate Sinclair will be forever remembered for scoring a hat trick in one of the greatest Olympic women’s soccer games, few will forget Tancredi’s presence on the same soccer pitch.
She set up two of Sinclair’s three goals and was a relentless defender on both sides of the field.
She and her teammates deserved a better fate than what they were dealt Monday.
But let’s focus on the positives.
In 2008, the Canadians finished a disappointing eighth in the Beijing Olympics. Now, they will finish no lower than fourth, and hopefully, will earn the bronze they deserve.
Few soccer experts gave the women’s team much chance to advance into the medal games at the London Olympics.
They were underdogs entering the Olympics. They were underdogs against Great Britain. They were supposed to be overmatched by the dominant, top-ranked U.S. squad.
But instead of listening to the experts, this team made Canadians, and the rest of the world take notice.
On Monday, in households and sports pubs across Canada, we were cheering for one of the gutsiest teams to ever lace up their shoes for their country.
A questionable call by a referee may have robbed our team of the victory it deserves, but it will never rob the players of the adoration they earned from Olympic fans across Canada.
They will always be golden in our hearts.
Hamilton Community News Managing Editor Rod Jerred can be reached at rjerred@hamiltonnews.com or follow him on Twitter @HCN_editor.

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