So many people came, so many people struggled and strived to find a TV, internet connection or radio station to follow the game on, so many people expected a Team GB win. But it wasn’t to be.
Was it a hangover from Tuesday night – an occasion that altered perceptions of the women’s game in the UK forever and proved to be a memory that no one who witnessed it would ever forget – an almost inevitable result of the physical and emotional energy expended to beat a team of Brazil’s stature in front of a record crowd, at the English home of football? Perhaps. Would Kelly Smith, sidelined by a knock suffered in the Brazil game, have made a difference, with her movement and ability to help create something out of nothing? We’ll never know.
What it definitely was, was a stellar performance by a solid, organised, hungry, committed and clinical Canadian team. They started so positively, taking the game straight to Team GB and remained in control of the game for large stretches. Not that GB didn’t create half chances and not that they ever gave up, it would be heartless and wrong to say they didn’t give their absolute all, but when you’re tired and the performance is flat, the final ball is forced and trying harder can perversely have the opposite than the desired effect.
Team GB were brilliant against Brazil but they were ultimately toothless in attack against the Canucks and were undone by two goals from two set pieces in the first half. Jonelle Filigno’s fine first time strike, on the half volley, direct from Sophie Schmidt’s corner flew into the top corner above Kaz Carney’s head and then Christine Sinclair’s curling free kick, after a foul by Kim Little on the excellent Desiree (‘the Destroyer’) Scott, were enough to see Canada through. Despite a second half shout for a penalty, after Rhian Wilkinson’s possible foul on Eni Aluko and the introduction of a lively Fara Williams and ‘desperate to do something’ Rachel Williams, Canada, who worked so hard and defended so well (even with a make-shift backline – Moscato & Sesselman standing in at centre back due to injuries), on reflection, looked comfortable.
It was a great journey the team took us on, they have done so much for the women’s game and are a credit to Team GB and to themselves as individuals. They’re understandably heart-broken, too.
Here’s what captain Casey Stoney, Kelly Smith and coach Hope Powell had to say, after the game:
On the mood in the dressing room:
Devastated, heartbroken, gutted, a lot of the England players have been to quarter finals before and I’ve got to be honest we can play better than we did tonight. I think that’s the most frustrating thing. I think we could have had two penalties and there was a foul in the lead up to the first corner where they scored and I think Kim Little won the ball on the second goal. We had a stonewall penalty and it wasn’t given. If things had gone slightly differently it could have been a different result but we also have to look that we conceded from two set pieces so we are disappointed about that.
On the team:
From my perspective I’m so proud of the girls, they all played their part, the girls that didn’t get on the pitch, the girls that did, everybody has been fantastic. Most importantly for me were the people sitting in the stands, I think we’ve made the country proud.
On the impact of the team:
I was walking around crying like a baby. I’m not getting any younger so the chances to win things are getting slimmer and I thought it was a real opportunity this year. But I think we’ve done so much for women’s football in this country. The desire to watch it is there, the fans have been incredible, we’re just sorry that we couldn’t have progressed further and given them something more to watch, but we are thankful of them and they’ve followed us on this journey.
On the next step:
I’m 30 now so I don’t think I’ll see another Olympics. I’m going to take a couple of days off and then it’s straight back to club football. It will be fantastic if half the interest generated from this bounces over into the Super League because we’ve shown that women can play football and it’s entertaining.
On the game:
I don’t think we played particularly well tonight in parts and that’s what’s frustrating because we know we can play better. We knew it would be a tough game, if not harder than Brazil. We are just frustrated, there are some broken hearts in the changing room. Gutting to go out the way we did. An early goal conceded like that it’s going to be hard to come back and I don’t think we really set for the wall and little mistakes like that cost you games.
On her injury:
The plan was for us to win this game and then me be fresh and ready to go for the semis but it hasn‘t worked out that way. It‘s just a bit annoying that I picked up this knock in the Brazil game.
On the next step:
Back to the WSL now, we’ve got to play Everton away, that’s our first game back. We’ve just got to regroup.
On being history makers and Olympians:
It’s nice to say that we broke so many records but for me, we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to and that was to medal. We fell short so yeah, on one hand we’ve set all these records, we’ve inspired a lot of people, which is great and we hope it will develop the sport and get more people come to watch us play but ultimately we wanted a medal. We are all hurting right now to be honest, I think once we come down off this and can look back we’ll reflect and think what a great journey and then think that we are Olympians and that’s a first in women’s football and we should be proud of that.
On being an inspiration to youngsters:
I won’t get another opportunity to play in an Olympics, so I’ve tried to embrace it but I do hope that we’ve inspired many people along the way. So many Tweets that I’ve had, young girls saying that they want to play football now and older men saying they have really been inspired and realised how good the standard of women’s football is now.
On the next few days:
We’re can stay in the village until the 12th so I think I’m probably going to go home and get some normal clothes because all we’ve been living in is these GB outfits. Our accreditation gets us into some events so just experience some other sports and still mixing with the athletes so I think a lot of us are going to take that up.
Team GB head coach Hope Powell
On the game:
We tried. We knew what was at stake, we didn’t quite make it. It was a tough, physical game. No complaints. Were we at our best? No. We didn’t start as well as we could have. They got an early goal, surprised us a little. Have to give credit to Canada and how well they played, we were on the back foot a lot. We missed Kelly [Smith] tonight.
We got better in the second half [after the discussion we had at half time] but we couldn’t find the net. There was a penalty that we might have got but there’s no point talking about what could have been. They won, we didn’t they go through, we go home.
Closing line of thanks:
Can I just say, ‘Thank you,’ to everyone who has supported Team GB.
Neither are workable or likely at present but hypothetically, would you prefer a more strict salary cap in the FA WSL OR should centrally contracted England players (that receive salaries from The FA) be allocated more evenly around WSL1 clubs?