Whether it was the controversial officiating or shoddy defending, the Canadian Women’s squad find themselves on the outside looking in after a great effort.
The Canadian women’s football match on Monday afternoon may be one of the most exciting and disappointing moments at the London 2012 games for the great white North. After pushing a powerful American squad to their limit, and with the “assistance” of some questionable officiating, the Canadian women fell 4-3 after 120 minutes of play.
Canadian captain Christine Sinclair potted a hat trick in fine fashion, pulling Canada ahead in the first half, and then twice again in the second. With assists from Melissa Tancredi and Carmelina Moscato, it looked as though Canada would be heading to a showdown with world number one Japan for the gold.
However, Sinclair’s University of Portland teammate Megan Rapinoe contributed two second half goals for the American side, pulling the tally to 3-2 before the end of regulation time. It all seemed for naught until the 80th minute.
With an errant and misguided free kick call awarded by the Norwegian referee, Rapinoe again found luck as her kick into the Canadian wall struck the arm of two Canadian defenders. The referee again imposed her questionable judgment by awarding the USA a penalty kick, which was successfully converted by American veteran Abby Wambach.
Was the penalty call justified? Generally, errant free kicks that hit the arms of defenders in the box are only called if the touch intentionally interferes with the path of a shot. It looked as though this wasn’t the case, but the call was made and the penalty was successful, bringing the score even with ten minutes remaining.
The remaining time solved nothing, and play moved to extra time. Two 15 minute periods were needed before 23 year old Alex Morgan potted the winner with only seconds remaining in injury time. Despite their best efforts, Canada was relegated to playing in the Bronze medal match.
Was it fate or just questionable refereeing? It seems, in this case, that the question will remain unanswered.