HANDS slammed tables and a collective groan of disappointment filled the air at a city pizza joint as a group of local soccer enthusiasts watched the United States squeak out a 4-3 win against Canada in women's Olympic semifinal action Monday afternoon.
A goal from Alex Morgan in the 123rd minute sealed the deal for the Americans, stunning close to 40 members of the World Soccer Academy and their families and friends as Canada's pursuit of gold came to an end.
"It's a little heartbreaking to watch because they worked so hard," said Michelle Kliment, a former teammate and co-captain with midfielder Desiree Scott on the University of Manitoba Bisons soccer club. "But I think in the end this was an epic match and it will go down in the history of women's football."
Canada held the lead three separate times but were unable to hold on for the victory against a heavily favoured American team.
Despite the outcome, the strong play of local star Scott provided the crowd a healthy dose of hometown pride. "Every time I turn on the TV and see Des I get chills and I think everyone here can say the same," said Kliment. "We get chills because she's so humble and she's our friend and she's on TV representing our country."
There was a scary moment late in the game when Scott collided knee-on-knee with U.S. midfielder Heather O'Reilly, forcing her to be helped off the field. She returned moments later.
"She's so tough," said Caley Miskimmin, a teammate of Scott's since the age of 11. "She's really determined and this was one of her dreams to complete her soccer career. I'm so proud of her. She has the nickname 'The Destroyer' for a reason."
Jim Rurak, manager of the Winnipeg Northstars women's team, helped organize the event in honour of Scott.
"It's been a very nice, tight family in terms of the soccer community as Des has come through the ranks, so we really feel like she's a part of all of our family," said Rurak. "Des belongs to all of us here in Winnipeg and we're just so proud of her that we had to do something.
"(If Desiree were here) I'd say that she played a massive game and a massive tournament up to date. I'd tell her how proud we are, how absolutely proud we are of her for what she's done for soccer in our city and country.
"It was a great effort by our team. I really feel like they deserved to win. Not sure exactly what was going on with some of those weird calls that cost us a goal, but we're still pretty darn proud of our girls and they have a medal on the line on Thursday."
Team Canada will now play for bronze against a France team that fell 2-1 to Japan in the other semifinal Monday. This marks the first time the Canadian women's team will play for a medal since the inclusion of women's soccer in the Olympics in 1996. Canada has only qualified twice, the other time in 2008 in Beijing where they finished eighth.
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