It was a late night for the new heroines of Canadian sport.
After winning the bronze medal in an improbable---a woefully insufficient adjective---1-0 victory over the French (who actually could have been in the gold medal game and came home with only tears and an uncertain coaching future), the Canadians went to Wembley for the US-Japan final and to receive the bronze medals which felt like gold, moved their belongings into the Athletes Village, and did media interviews until after 4 in the morning. And some of them had to be back for more press probing at 11:30 this morning.
One of the things that we got into a small discussion about, with head coach John Herdman---who could use this as a resume to get any job, in any field, in any corporation in Canada right now---was that final goal by Oakville's Diana Matheson, an inspiration for the Potential of the Petite, everywhere.
What remains front of mind are several things, including the sudden, almost-bizarre, realization that she was all alone in front of the gaping net with the future of Canadian soccer on her feet, the sure steer-in and most of all, much larger teammate Rhian Wilkinson excitedly flinging Matheson over her shoulder like a sack of very light potatoes. I will replay the mental image of that for a long, long time.
In the excitement of the moment, we probably lost something else: the 15 seconds in which Matheson completely defined all the roles of midfielder, which demands more all-round skills than any other position.
The French had this game into extra time, with the ball in their possession and a clearing kick on the way. And with Canada dead in the water, physically and emotionally had they not scored, extra time would probably have given the French the goal which somehow the soccer Gods had kept from them in the shooting-gallery that was the second half.
But as the French player tried to clear the ball, Matheson blocked it (defence), which resulted in the ball going to a teammate (passing), then circled into open space to her right (game sense) to put her into position to take advantage of a bad bounce and drive home the winner (scoring).
"That was the power of not wanting to go into extra time driving her," Herdman quipped. "She’s a phenomenal player."
Herdman said that in the short time the team had from official duties they'd watched not only the final goal on replay, but lots of other details of the game.
"We watched Desi's (Desiree Scott's) clearing of the ball on the line, Erin's (McLeod) save," He said. "There's just so many little features of that game. Watching Sinky (Christine Sinclair) almost out of gas and then lifting up for the final goal."
Here's guessing they'll all watch it again and again and again, the rest of their lives.