Gold for Canada in Olympic women's soccer, heartbreak for Sweden and its legend

The gold medal in women's soccer returned to Concacaf in Yokohama.

But to Canada, not the USA.

The Canadians, who upset the USA, 1-0, in the semifinals, stunned favored Sweden with a 3-2 shootout victory after they trailed 2-1 in the fifth round of the penalty kicks.

Canada earned bronze in 2012 and 2016, but no one expected it would challenge for gold in Japan. Not with a young team and a new coach in 35-year-old Englishwoman Beverly Priestman, who was hired in the middle of the pandemic and didn't get to coach Canada in a match until six months ago.

The Swedes, winners of five straight games, beginning with a 3-0 win over the USA, took the lead on a goal by Stina Blackstenius in the 34th minute and dominated the match. But Canada got a break when it equalized in the 67th minute on a penalty kick by Jessie Fleming, whose penalty kick was the difference against the USA in the semifinals. The penalty was awarded after VAR confirmed a foul by Sweden Amanda Ilestedt on Canada star Christine Sinclair.

Sweden had a 24-14 edge in shots, but the match ended 1-1 after 120 minutes. Just three of the first nine shooters converted their attempts in the shootout. Sweden led 2-1 and had a chance to win, but 36-year-old Caroline Seger put her shot over the crossbar.

Deanne Rose, who will join English club Reading this fall after having finished her college career at Florida, then evened the score at 2-2 after five rounds, and Julia Grosso, a rising senior at Texas, scored the winning goal after keeper Stephanie Labbe dove to her left to stop Jonna Andersson.

Labbe made two saves in the shootout against Sweden, matching her performance against Brazil in the quarterfinals, where Canada came back to win 4-3 in the shootout after their match ended 0-0.

“There’s no pressure on me,” said the 34-year-old Labbe, who plays in Sweden for Rosengard after helping the North Carolina Courage win the 2019 NWSL title. “I’m not supposed to make saves. And if I can make a save, it’s great."

Among Labbe's teammates at Rosengard is Seger, who name in Swedish is "victory."

“It was a perfect story,” said Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson after his team settled for silver at the second straight Olympics. “But football isn’t a fairy tale. It’s reality. And reality is brutal.”

Labbe also played with Seger in the last season of WPS on the 2011 champion Western New York Flash, a team also included Brazilian Marta, Alex Morgan and Sinclair.

“I knew she was an icon in Swedish football," said Labbe, "but I’ve come to realize what an amazing leader and incredible person she is. I see the power she has on those around her and how she can inspire people."

Seger's roommate in 2011 was Sinclair.

“This will hurt her, and it will hurt for a long time,” said Sinclair, who won gold at the age of 38, more than 21 years after she made her international debut. “But she can hold her head high because she’s an absolute legend.”
15 comments about "Gold for Canada in Olympic women's soccer, heartbreak for Sweden and its legend".
  1. Dave Wasser, August 7, 2021 at 10:58 a.m.

    Does anyone have a link to a video of the medal ceremony following the gold medal match? NBC did not show it live, and I can't find it on YouTube.

  2. Santiago 1314 replied, August 8, 2021 at 2:15 a.m.

    I would have liked to see the Pre-Game National Anthem, They didn't show that either... you know the one, "O Canada"... Finishes Up with; "God keep our land glorious and free!?O Canada, we STAND on Gaurd for thee"... Just Wondering if they ever did any kneeling, during their National Anthem.???... Any Questions about how "Spirit" and Not Skill can Carry you to a World Championship.???

  3. Scott Chaney, August 7, 2021 at 11:06 a.m.

    You gotta love PK's. Where else can a mediocre team like Canada win their way thru the semis and finals but in PK's? This is why Golden Goal is the way to go. Make someone put a goal in the net! 

  4. Greg Gould replied, August 7, 2021 at 12:19 p.m.

    Couldn't agree more on PKs! Hate them for deciding ties. Golden goal also a good idea. Next goal wins. Fair for both sides and offers some incentive to end the game more quickly. 

  5. Wooden Ships replied, August 7, 2021 at 6 p.m.

    A bit harsh calling Canada mediocre. I like Golden Goal, but I think playing more than 120 minutes is dangerous. I enjoy the flip switch to PK's. A different mindset and brutally permanent in its result. I started taking PK's in 63, continuing into the 90's. Most I made. If you think of baseball, which I excelled in as well as soccer, the idea of playing until there is a score can go into the high teen innings. That's a much easier task than asking a soccer player to play until there is a score. After 120, and you've not put the other team away it's now time to try something completely different (Monty Python). Courage, confidence, focus, PK's are dramatic. 

  6. Santiago 1314 replied, August 8, 2021 at 2:22 a.m.

    What about Taking "Out" the Offside Rule in OT.???... Now, That would be "Something Completely Different.".. Knudge, Knudge, Wink, Wink... Ohhhhh, I'm a Lumberjack, and I JUST WON THE GOLD MEDAL.!!!

  7. Santiago 1314 replied, August 8, 2021 at 9:40 a.m.

    I agree with you Scott, (Sorry Wooden)... And the More and More Rapinoe Opens her Mouth, I get more and More Worked Up...
    A Garbage Team of former Mediocre US College Players WINs The GOLD Medal, by Playing like Junk Yard Dogs on the Ropa-Dopa... EMBARRASSING...SHAMEFUL...DISTURBING...UPSETTING.!!!

  8. frank schoon replied, August 8, 2021 at 9:47 a.m.

    Santiago ,read today's quote by Rapinho-ho under 'What they are saying' in SA. 

  9. Santiago 1314 replied, August 8, 2021 at 8:14 p.m.

    She would need to Loosen her Underwear, in order for me to Properly hear what she is Saying out of her A$$.!!!

  10. uffe gustafsson, August 7, 2021 at 5:59 p.m.

    Yes it was hard to watch but Sweden had chances to end the game before PK but didn't and PK can go either way.
    so no complaints just focus on the next WC.
    sweden should be a favorite with a young team getting better.

  11. Wooden Ships replied, August 7, 2021 at 6:03 p.m.

    Canada too, if they can learn to finish their chances they will be a threat. That Fleming girl is an amazing talent and will become Canandas table setter. 

  12. Santiago 1314 replied, August 8, 2021 at 2:24 a.m.

    Is she the one that USA Rejected.??? Then she went Canadian.!!!

  13. Santiago 1314 replied, August 8, 2021 at 2:31 a.m.

    Uffe, you so Good at Critizing US Soccer... You dòn't seem Critical of Sweden CHOKING THE GOLD MEDAL.!?!?!?... Bunch of Automiton Amazon StepFord Wives, that Couldn't figure a Way to Beat a Team of Shitte Kickers in a Bunker... Please give us a More InDepth Analysis of the Swedish Players and What they did Wrong.!!!

  14. frank schoon, August 8, 2021 at 8:40 a.m.

    Watched the last 30min of the game. My overal opinion was the Sweden was the better 'soccer playing' team. The Canada relied more on power, speed, muscle,and counter attacking soccer. Canada will definitely become a problem with the USWNT. I think a lot of the Canadians play college ball in the US......

    As far as the penalties,  the women's technique in shooting is deplorable. There really is no answer to having to not shoot penalties. As a matter of fact I quit watching 30min overtime games, for the players are just 'dragging' out there. Skip the overtime and go right into penalties, at least the players will be fresher taking them.

    Or to really seperate the man from the boys is do to do what the old NASL did to solve ties. From 25meters or so out 1v1 with the goalie. This will tell you right away who can 'football' and who can't....This is the most exciting way to end a tie game. Players don't have to play an extra 30 min. and go right into and still,sort of, play soccer but it is you 1v1 with the goalie.

  15. uffe gustafsson, August 8, 2021 at 8:23 p.m.

    Wow Santiago 
    me criticizing usa team where did that come from, I been on their side in this debate you guys have had.
    all I can say Olympic tornament is probly the hardest tornament with games coming fast and you could see that in the final especially in OT, wish the Swedish coach done the subs earlier the subs really pressured Canada but just couldn't put in the net. They had a great tornament and that is all one can ask for. Next is WC.
    and also proud of USA in the bronze match some real gems of goals.

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