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Canada’s infectious enthusiasm lifts team to quarterfinals

The Canadian team celebrates after defeating Switzerland 1-0 in their Round of 16 match in Vancouver… on Sunday. 	               PHOTO: AFP.

The Canadian team celebrates after defeating Switzerland 1-0 in their Round of 16 match in Vancouver… on Sunday. PHOTO: AFP.<br />

Raw will to win is rarely pretty and it is rarely convincing. What it lacks in those areas, however, it gains in the amount of inspiration it can provide.

It may be an old sports cliché, but yesterday Canada just wanted to win more than the Swiss did. That wasn’t the entire story, but it was the underlying narrative to a 1-0 victory that has put the host nation in the quarterfinals.

Josée Belanger’s goal was the difference maker, and she was integral to a change in tactics that helped propel Canada to victory. Having her move up the field again from fullback to winger brought creativity and talent to the Canadian attack that has been missing all tournament.

The goal came off of one of the best moves Canada has been able to orchestrate in the tournament. Rhian Wilkinson’s brilliant ball found Christine Sinclair who calmly touched it to Belanger for a classy finish.

This kind of play still wasn’t as common as Canada surely would like it to be, but it was more frequent than it has been in any other game so far in the tournament. For once they didn’t look completely lost in the final third.

It’s in Canada’s own third where they have really impressed however, only conceding one goal so far in the entire tournament. Again yesterday they were well organized and difficult to break down, frustrating the Swiss at every turn.

The praises for Kadeisha Buchanan and Alysha Chapman have already been sung a plenty, but they haven’t been yet for Wilkinson. The veteran defender was solid, playing a smart game and adding better service off of the wings.
Erin McLeod definitely deserves a large degree of praise as well as she has been world class so far this tournament. Against the Swiss she once again made a couple of crucial saves.

Another important spark plug for Canada was the electric atmosphere inside BC Place, where the Canadian national team record set earlier in the tournament in Edmonton was broken. 53,855 people were in the stadium and they were loud and proud as they guided Canada to victory.

A repeat of the team’s performance yesterday likely won’t be enough to beat either Norway or England in the quarterfinals, but Canada did hint at another gear they have yesterday. It’s coming late in the tournament, but they can peak now all previous transgressions will be forgotten.

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