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Canada, US women's soccer teams qualify for Olympics
Published : 28 Jan 2012 08:46:51Rss feed
The United States and Canada reached the Olympics for the second consecutive time by posting semi-final wins at the CONCACAF women's Olympic soccer tournament in a doubleheader.
The two-time defending gold medalists Americans on Friday overcame a determined Costa Rica team 3-0 while the Canadians also booked a spot at the London Summer Games behind a 3-1 victory over Mexico at BC Place stadium.
The US and Canada will meet Sunday for the CONCACAF championship. Since both teams already have qualified, the game is more for the bragging rights of the region that includes North and Central American and the Caribbean.
Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd and second-half substitute Alex Morgan scored for the US, which has outscored its opposition in this competition 34-0.
Heath put in a rebound of an Abby Wambach shot in the 16th minute, Lloyd struck from the top of the penalty area in the 72nd minute for an insurance goal before Morgan sealed the Costa Rica's fate in the 89th minute.
"We celebrated. It was the first time we celebrated [at the tournament]," goalkeeper Hope Solo said.
"It was a sigh of relief. We gave hugs to everybody. You could tell it was all right. We are London bound. It was time to relax a little. We have a final match and its going to be a great game. And we're going to London."
Costa Rica coach Karla Aleman could not have been prouder of her players.
"For Costa Rica it has been a great honour of playing against the best team in the world, at the moment," she said. "These kind of experiences are the ones that we need for Costa Rica to get better and grow.
"I'm not upset with my players. I'm very proud of them. They did a great job. I wish I could have had a chance with the National Team T-shirt and wearing it."
Not only have the Americans never missed any of the five women's Olympic tournament, they haven't missed a final. They have won three gold medals and a silver.
Canada survived a late rally by the Mexicans, who applied great pressure on the host team before a crowd of 22,954, which was a CONCACAF Olympic women's attendance record.
Christine Sinclair, who has a tournament-high nine goals, led Canada with two tallies -- one in each half -- as she surpassed Germany's Birgit Prinz (128 goals) to move into a third-place tie with Wambach on the all-time women's goal-scoring list.
Sinclair and Wambach trail only the US's Mia Hamm (158 goals) and Kristine Lilly (130).
The Canadians struck twice in the opening half as Sinclair connected from nine yards in the 15th minute and Melissa Tancredi tallied from six yards in the 23rd minute.
Veronica Perez sliced the lead in half with a bullet of a goal through traffic in the 67th minute. But Sinclair pulled Canada two goals clear again by chipping goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago from 12 yards off a Tancredi feed.
"We're off to London," Canada coach John Herdman said. "Some great news. No job done yet. We want to get there in the final and go against the states.
"It's been an amazing journey. These players are a wonderful bunch. They're an inspiration to their country. They knew what they had on their shoulders tonight. It's no way they were going to let Mexico trip them over in their own country in their own stadium in front of their own fans.
"That was the energy that you see. That's what was driving them tonight."