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Scott takes dead-aim at Olympics

Soccer player has cleared one hurdle -- one remains

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From Winnipeg to the world stage -- Desiree Scott has now set her sights on representing Canada at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Scott was a starting midfielder for Canada's national women's soccer team last Friday when the team qualified for the Olympics by beating Mexico 3-1 in the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying tournament semifinal game. The match was played before 22,054 fans at BC Place in Vancouver.

The Canadians took silver in the tournament, losing the final 4-0 to the USA on Sunday in front of a sellout crowd of 25,427 fans at BC Place. Scott played the full 90 minutes in both games.

"It was an amazing experience to qualify for the Olympics in Canada in front of our fans," said Scott, in a telephone interview from Vancouver where the team was holding its final meetings and training session on Monday. "To have that support behind us. The crowd really kept us going and our team really pushed through and got the job done."

Canadian head coach John Herdman still needs to pick his team for the games.

"He's not really saying anything about selection, but our core group of players are just believing that they will be going to the Olympics. If all goes well, this team is pretty much the team that will go to the Olympics," Scott, 24, said.

"We will have camps for the next six months leading up to the Olympics. The core group of players will stick together and, as long as you keep performing, it should be a guaranteed thing... but nothing is set in stone."

Scott will return to Winnipeg today for two weeks before heading to the Cyprus Cup from Feb. 28-March 8 where Canada is the two-time defending champion.

Scott's soccer career has undergone a transformation in recent months.

A striker through most of her career, including five years with the University of Manitoba Bisons, Herdman decided to convert Scott to a defensive midfield position. The new position calls for her to play closer to the line of defenders to stop the opposing attackers and get the ball forward to the goal-scorers.

Herdman became head coach in September after Carolina Morace resigned following a last-place finish at last summer's 2011 FIFA World Cup.

"I've been getting a lot of playing time in the holding midfielder role. It's a new position for me under this coach and I'm having a lot of success there. He's really given me the opportunity to come into my own there," said Scott, who first played the position during the Pan Am Games last October, where Canada won gold.

"John Herdman, he just sees something in me and I've been getting more playing time than I ever have with the program. I think it's my work ethic and I think he can see that my heart is in it."

Herdman called Scott "one of the most honest players I've seen" in an interview with the Vancouver Province prior to the win over Mexico.

"You need an honest player in that position because it's a heck of a lot of work. Not only can she destroy players, she's got a real composure on the ball," Herdman said.

A four-time Canada West conference all-star during her university career, Scott joined the Bisons women's team as an assistant coach in 2011 but will focus on her training leading up to the Olympics.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 31, 2012 D4

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