The press in Japan | Best minute in Canadian football history

(YOKOHAMA) It was 11:46 pm in Yokohama. After 90 minutes of regulation time, 30 minutes of overtime and five shots on target each side, the Canadians and Sweden remained tied.


Jonah Anderson came to get the ball to put it in the penalty area. The Swedish defender was nervous. His face was crooked. Stephanie Labe smiled in front of her happily. Suffering goalkeeper time penalty kick? not for her not hers.

“I love penalty kicks. Because I don’t have pressure. I’m not supposed to get through the lockout. The numbers prove him right: the shooters score three times out of four.” So I’m very calm. relaxation. I trust myself. ”

Photo by Bernard Brault, the press

Goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe

Feeling that her opponent was more nervous than she was, Labe began to make a fuss. All kinds of big gestures. Like raising your arms to heaven. walk and do jack bouncys on the line. That big smile, these gestures, aren’t they unsportsmanlike? A Swedish journalist asked him.

“Can I enjoy playing football?” She answered with one word.

I can do whatever I want. This practical. The odds are against me. I will do what I can to make it work for me. If I can play through their heads and make them doubt when it’s time to shoot, I will.

Stephanie Labbe

Jonah Anderson shot to the left of Stephanie Labe. The Canadian goalkeeper threw herself on the ground and created the most important thing in her career.

It was now 11:47 PM in Yokohama.

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The victory was now at the end of the cleats for a Canadian player. but who?

Kristen Sinclair? No way. The top scorer in international football history – both men and women – had earlier given way to a new-legged reserve soldier.

Canada’s top five other bowlers, including Jesse Fleming, who scored the equalizer in regulation, had already shown in front of Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl. Biff Priestman’s options were narrowing. The Canada coach turned into a player who did not score any goal with the Canadian national team.

Julia Grosso.

Who is ?

Photo Look Finance, Agence France-Presse

Julia Grosso

A 20-year-old student. One of only three players in uniform, in this final, and not progressing through the ranks of the pros. What she lacks in experience, she makes up for in her calmness.

It was all light on her. There was tension – and a lot of moisture – in the air. “I was just trying to stay calm. I didn’t want to think too much. I thought it was just a part. Otherwise, my nerves might fool me.”

Like all of her teammates, Grosso trained a lot on penalty kicks in anticipation of an outcome like this. “For 40 days in a row,” Kristen Sinclair said. She already knew, before reaching the penalty area, what shot she wanted to make. “So I took a deep breath, then made my shot.”

low shot. To the right of Lindahl, who predicted the track well. Swedish goalkeeper stretch. The ball touched his arm. But not enough to stop it.

But Canada.

Victory, Canada.

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Gold Medal from Canada.

The girls cried for joy. The regulars, reserves and coaches all rushed to Grosso who was waiting for them with open arms. “It is the most beautiful feeling in the world,” explained the heroine of that day. I’ve never felt anything like this in my entire life. I will always remember her. ”

This goal we will talk about for a long time. Like Sidney Crosby and Mary Philip Boleyn, in overtime for the Olympic hockey finals. We will also remember Stephanie Labbe’s exceptional performance in this competition, after she was injured in the first match.

“This tournament was for her,” said defender Vanessa Giles. Whether it was the quarter-finals, the semi-finals against the US or today, she saved us. Repeatedly. Senior athletes raise their level of play when necessary. Well, that’s exactly what I did. ”

Jill in particular wanted to thank his guardian for comforting her after she missed the penalty shootout. “When I missed my shot, I went to see her. I asked him: Steve, did you get this? You looked at me calmly. she said to me : I protect your back. From there, I knew we would win, no matter how. ”

This gold medal is more than remarkable considering it’s the first in over a century for Canada in a team sport at the Summer Games. The last time was in Antwerp in 1920. The system? Men’s hockey. Yes, yes, at the Summer Games. The Winter Games did not exist yet.

This victory is also the accomplishment of a 10-year effort to put a program back off the right track. Kristen Sinclair, 38, can attest that she was around in the national team’s darkest times.

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“When I started playing for the national team, we were losing 9-0 to the United States. That was the norm. In the 2011 World Cup, Canada lost all their matches in the first round. Then Sinclair pointed out that there was something “broken” in the program.” Then John came along. Herdman as head coach, and he changed everything for us. He changed the course of this program. We owe him a lot. ”

“Today, being part of this group of guys, on top of the podium… Honestly, I never thought I would be part of this group. Yes, I once thought Canada would be able to do it one day, but it happened so quickly. .”

Was this your last match, Kristen? colleague asked.

I laughed.

“No. At the very least, we’ll take a tour of the tournament!”

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