The Canadian gut punch

Canada’s time in the Women’s World Cup and other moments that had me clutching my stomach

Photo by Marc Lagace

As the final whistle sounded on Canada’s 2-1 loss to England in the quarterfinals of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. It’s a painful experience that I’ve often endured with sport, whether through playing or watching.

Thanks to three of the most disastrous minutes in Canadian women’s soccer history, which saw a Lauren Sesselmann miscue at the back and keeper Erin McLeod misplaying a cross, Canada found themselves down 2-0 to England.

While captain Christine Sinclair brought one back for the host nation, the deficit proved to be too large for Canada.

I guess I shouldn’t be too negative. Canada should be proud for going as far as they did. Their result will surely brush that taste of the 2011 World Cup, where they finished dead last in the group stage, out of our mouths.

But you’re going to need to forgive me for being less than satisfied with their result. I have a few reasons.
First, the 2010 Winter Olympics changed my view of Canada in any Olympic sport. We’re a strong nation.

We shouldn’t be going into a tournament just to participate. We want to win. If that’s not the goal, don’t bother taking part!

Secondly, while Canada did have chances, they just did not impress offensively. Canada didn’t score more than one goal in any game throughout the tournament. Going forward, coach John Herdman will have to answer questions about how to attack. Meanwhile, Sinclair and fellow forwards Melissa Tancredi and Josée Bélanger aren’t getting any younger.

Fortunately, there are younger options in Adriana Leon, and Jonelle Foligno, but at any rate goal scoring must be a priority for Canada at the next World Cup. Oh, and counterattacking. That’s got to be fixed.
Simply put, you aren’t going to win many games if you rest on one goal and expect the team to hold the fort for the rest of the match.

Thirdly, why was Herdman so happy to rely on Sesselmann for defence? While she did have some bright spots, she will be remembered for her defensive gaffes, feeling relatively uneasy at the back, and falling on her behind, leading to England’s first goal in the quarterfinal loss.

It’s a harsh way to go out, and I feel awful for her considering her run of play, but why was Herdman still willing to put her in defence? Was there no other option for Canada off the bench?
Casual fans can take pride in Canada’s run at the Women’s World Cup. I say: let’s do better next time.


France and Germany played the game of the tournament in the quarterfinals. Someone had to lose, but if the fans had their way, we’d have had the trophy ceremony after the game.

Due to unfortunate circumstances (ultimately, money), France and Germany ended up on the same side of the draw. Their game really could have been the final. There was no seeded draw at the Women’s World Cup as FIFA decided where all teams would be organized prior to the tournament.

The reasoning? According to Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated, FIFA sought to place teams in certain cities in order to aid with ticket sales and TV ratings. As a result, Germany, France, and the Americans ended up on the same side of the draw. Canada had a seemingly favourable road to the final but they got bumped by England in the quarterfinals.

France and Germany played to penalties after a gripping game. Alas, the French lost to the Germans, who are usually bred to be automatic in penalties (more on that later). As expected, France wasn’t too happy after their loss.


England has found ways to dash the hopes of their fans in World Cups for years now. The women’s team continued this tradition in the most heartbreaking of fashions in their semi-final game against Japan.
It was the 90th minute. Japan and England were tied at one goal apiece. The teams played for extra time. Hey, maybe some penalties! And then disaster struck for the English side.

It was like witnessing a car crash. My jaw dropped wide in horror as I watched the own goal by Laura Bassett. Before I knew it, the referee whistled for full time. There were only a few highlights this year that made me say “oh no!” out loud. Bassett’s own goal for England was one of them.

It was the saddest moment of this tournament by far, and one of the saddest moments you’ll see in sports this year.

An honourable mention goes to Celia Sasic’s missed penalty versus the United States in the semi-finals. Germany could have taken a lead that would have sucked some life out of the Americans. Instead, the U.S. scored two goals to seal the deal in front of a pro-U.S. crowd at the Olympic Stadium.

The Women’s World Cup has provided some entertaining moments. But there were also too many stomach-churning events for my liking. That’s sport for you.

Julian McKenzie (@JulianTheIntern), is the online sports editor for the Link, the University of Concordia’s official student newspaper.