Seven players from Manitoba will represent Canada at the 2022 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Vantaa, Finland.
When they return from the eight-team event, they won’t have the medal they were hoping for and possibly no medal at all.
The second-placed Canadians suffered a massive upset in the semi-finals of the tournament on Wednesday night. 6th-seeded Great Britain scored a touchdown with two seconds on the clock to steal the Red-Whites a 20-13 win to play against the United States for gold. Canada, who won silver at the first three World Cups (2010, 2013 and 2017), will have to settle for third-place play-off with Finland on Sunday.
“It’s definitely annoying,” said Hanna McEwen, a running back from Winnipeg free press in a phone interview after the game.
“We have a lot of girls, a lot of vets, who have played on the team before and got silver last time, so they were hoping to get gold this time. And for some of them it’s their last year. With the rookies we were all excited and feeling good in training camp so we all feel down and quite upset about it.”
Along with 24-year-old McEwen, the other Winnipeggers on the roster are running back Hallie Eggie, defensive line Nura Muhindo, Brooklyn Dyce and Breanne Ward, and offensive line Andrea Backlund. Grosse Isle’s Julie Sprague is also on the offensive.
McEwen made an immediate impact on the game when she opened the scoring with a touchdown on the goal line in the first quarter after Great Britain fired a ball over their punter’s head. It looked like it was going to be a long night for the Brits as they fiddled with the opening game of their next drive, but luckily for them, Canada’s offense failed to get anything going.
Canadian quarterback Maude Lacasse threw a costly pick-six in the second quarter to breathe some life into the opposition. Britain would also bet on a quick touchdown from quarterback Sydney Green late in the second quarter to put a 13-7 lead at halftime.
“I don’t think it was just one play. We just couldn’t find our rhythm,” said McEwen, who finished with 13 yards and seven carries. McEwen also plays for the Texas Elite Spartans in the Women’s National Football Conference.
Canada would hit back with a quick hit from Saskatoon’s Sarah Wright in the third quarter to level the game 13-13, but after that the offense ran out of steam. Team Canada would pick Green up in the fourth quarter only to throw straight back an interception just three games later. It looked like things were about to go into overtime as Canada edged Britain out with a crucial third game, but there was a flag on the field: Laval linebacker Emilie P. Belanger was called on to use unnecessary harshness in order to to extend the drive. On the last play of the game, Wright threw a perfect corner pass to receiver Siobhan Walker for the win.
“It was a hard-fought game and the umpires were letting go of a lot of things all the time,” Dyce said.
“Then, on the final drive, we suddenly got a harsh phone call that had our backs against the wall. We gave everything we got. Sometimes with those 50-50 balls in the end zone, a team comes up with it and it wasn’t us today.
It wasn’t Britain’s first break this week. They bowed out to the semifinals as their first-round opponent, 3rd-ranked Mexico, experienced travel issues. Canada defeated Australia 33-6 on Saturday.
“They definitely came out fresh as it was their first game. I think we were physically stronger, but we have some injuries and other things that people couldn’t play that game,” said Dyce, a 31-year-old who plays for the Manitoba Fearless.
“It was quite tough but that’s the luck of the draw. That’s sports.”
Although they didn’t get the result they had hoped for, McEwen and Dyce are soaking up the experience of representing the national team for the first time. Behind Saskatchewan (17) and Quebec (11), Manitoba has the most members on the team.
“Programs have just started to become a little more competitive in Manitoba,” Dyce said. “So it’s pretty incredible for us to have so many girls on this team.”
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor started working for the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, kinda…
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