Diana Matheson’s goal in the 91st minute gave Canada a 1-0 win against France and the country’s first ever first bronze medal in Olympic soccer.
After the frustrating and controversial loss to the United States on Monday, Canadian head coach John Herdman told CTV Sports that he was concerned that his team would let its guard down against France for the bronze medal game.
That wasn’t the case, as a determined defensive performance and a very late goal gave Canada its first medal in summer team sports since 1936.
“It was a hell of a game the other night [against the USA] and the question was could we repeat that [against France],” said Herdman. “To be fair, we wobbled for long times, but that back four – Erin [Mcleod], Desiree Scott – was just remarkable and to see Sophie Schmidt covering the ground - they we’re possessed.
“France was outstanding, they were the better team, but you have to put the ball in the back of the net and we weren’t going to let them do that today”.
The Canadian women finished last place at last year’s World Cup in Germany, but have been remarkable ever since and captain Christine Sinclair credited Herdman for the team’s very quick turnaround.
“He’s just brilliant, he’s passionate about the sport and he’s brought back the love for the game, which was kind of broken after last year’s World Cup,” said Sinclair. “He’s completely changed the attitude of this team and we believe that we can beat absolutely anyone and we proved it."
Diana Matheson, who got the dramatic winning goal for the Reds, explained that getting to the podium was always a goal for the team and that having done so will perfectly set the stage for when the women’s World Cup comes to Canada in three years’ time.
“Our goal here was getting on the podium. We we’re in a good position going into this game and that’s what we were focusing on,” said Matheson. “We wanted to leave a legacy for Canadian soccer and I think we did that heading in to 2015”.
Whether the medal means that Canada is among the elite of Women’s soccer, Herdman thinks it’s too early to say, but surely the mentality is one of a top side.
“Well, only time will tell, because you got to keep performing,” said Herdman. “I just hope the young kids have seen [the game]. Never give up. Never give up and see what resilience will do for you”.