Canada’s Women’s National Soccer Team Flaunt Olympic Gold Medals, On-Field Brilliance, During Celebration Tour Match at TD Place Nifty 5-1 win over New Zealand

Daniel Miranda

Canada's gold medal-winning women's soccer team salute the fans at TD Place Stadium prior to kick-off. Photo by Peter Fowler

Canada’s gold medal-winning women’s soccer team salute the fans at TD Place Stadium prior to kick-off.
Photo by Peter Fowler


October 23rd was a memorable day for Canadian soccer at Lansdowne’s TD Place Stadium. A crowd of nearly 17,000 witnessed the inaugural stop on the Celebration Tour to commemorate the gold medal-winning effort from the Canadian Women’s National Team (WNT) during this year’s Olympic Games in Japan. New Zealand’s WNT graciously played the supporting role in this muchanticipated performance aimed at showcasing the women of the red maple leaf on center stage.

It was a crisp and beautiful fall afternoon with sunny skies and more than a few teary eyes. The heroic squad got to show the nation’s capital their well-deserved Olympic gold medals to a chorus of resounding applause. None of the cheers were louder than those reserved for number 12, team captain Christine Sinclair.

One could only wonder whether the day’s celebrations were vindication for the heinous crime perpetrated by the referee in the 2012 Olympics – where Sinclair had one of the greatest performances in international soccer history negated by an unprecedented delay of game free kick in a finals match against the United States that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory for Canada. Despite this crushing setback, the Canadian women’s soccer program took fate into their own hands by persevering and playing nine years of extraordinary soccer to find themselves once again back in the Olympic final. And this time, they turned the pain into gold.

Captain Christine Sinclair (right) and Janine Beckie put on a dazzling display of soccer against an over-matched New Zealand team. Photo by Flickr

Captain Christine Sinclair (right) and Janine Beckie put on a dazzling display of soccer against an over-matched New Zealand team. Photo by Flickr

Sinclair’s contribution to this long and triumphant crusade is as clear as the sun beaming down on TD Place Stadium on a cloud-free October day.

Stephanie Labbé, at the opposite end of the field, proudly stood on the goal line once again for Canada and defended the hopes of a nation. Ottawa certainly recognized the job she did, and gave her, and a penalty shot phenom Jessie Fleming, roaring rounds of applause. Of course, in a team sport, no contribution is too small, and the crowd showed their respect for all members of the team and coaching staff.

The fans would likely have been happy to go home after the emotional presentation of medals and the video recap of Canada’s Olympic soccer highlights. But that proved to be just the beginning of a fantastic soccer fest. We were treated next to a performance showcasing just how good this team has become.

For the captain’s part, Sinclair reminded us why her name will go down as one of the best players that women’s soccer has ever seen, and its leading overall goal scorer in international play. Despite her age, the first half was dominated by the Canadian legend. She drew a penalty in the early stages of the game. In unselfish fashion, she chose Jessie Fleming to take the penalty and, as she had done so many times in the Olympics, Fleming converted from the spot. The next goal was all Sinclair – and a thing of beauty. Sinclair poked the ball clear after the New Zealand goalie and defender crossed paths, spun around 180 degrees and lifted the ball over the last two defenders with her left foot and into the top right corner. Were it not for a goalline stop from a centre back and a jumping save from a goalie, she might have had a couple more goals to add to her record tally.

The jubilation erupts in Tokyo seconds after Julia Grosso netted the gold medal-winning goal in a tense shootout against Sweden. Photo by Flickr

The jubilation erupts in Tokyo seconds after Julia Grosso netted the gold medal-winning goal in a tense shootout against Sweden. Photo by Flickr

In the second half, after the standing ovation and cheers died down, Sinclair made way for Adriana Leon, who stated her case for Canada’s captaincy when Sinclair eventually steps down from the throne. The hardest working Canadian (besides Kadeisha Buchanan with her stalwart defending and galloping runs), Leon inspired great team football around her valiant effort and positive play. It was very reminiscent of how she changed the momentum of the Olympic final against Sweden in Canada’s favour. Her two goals didn’t hurt, either. How fortunate she is to be the understudy to one of the greatest players to ever lace up the soccer boots, especially because they play the same position and have the same team-first demeanour.

To nobody’s surprise, the match ended in a lopsided score in favour of the ladies in red. What a performance and welcome home for all of the players, and what a gift for all us in the stands to witness the celebration unfold.

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