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Canada 6 Haiti 0: Well, what else did you expect?


It kinda would have been nice for Haiti to get at least one.

Be honest. By game's end, you were thinking the same thing. The Haitian side is a fuzzy, feel-good story. They got their uniforms donated. None of the players earn a penny as footballers. Their standout player was goalkeeper Ednie Limage, who earned plaudits from fans for keeping the score at 4-0 before she was knocked out with an injury.

Hell, the fact that Christine Sinclair scored four times doesn't even seem particularly astounding -- though perhaps that's more of a testament to her increasingly-legendary status than anything else.

So while it's perfectly reasonable to momentarily revel in Canada beating anyone, at any level, by a score of 6-0 in the game of soccer, let's not pretend this was anything beyond what it was: A wholly expected and comprehensive dispatching of a barely serviceable opponent.
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Now, that's not to say there weren't encouraging signs from the Canadian side. As mentioned, Sinclair scored four goals -- which, in case you're new to this ball-kicking game, is a hell of a lot. Perhaps she'd have been better off with the mere hat trick -- her perfunctory final goal was on a penalty kick, which may have been more beneficial to a youngster such as Chelsea Buckland, for the purposes of gaining confidence and familiarity with the back of the net in international play. But that's nitpicking, really.

Sinclair, for what it's worth, was playing an attacking midfielder's role, and was certainly positioned farther from the opposing goal than we're accustomed to seeing. That opened up some good opportunities for strikers Melissa Tancredi and Christina Julien -- though a discouraging number of them were wasted in the early going. Rust? FieldTurf? Nerves on home "soil"? Some combo of the three? Perhaps. But this is the only time Sincy's going to net four in the same game; it's incumbent upon the rest of the strike force to be more clinical in the days ahead.

A troubling blow to Canada's offensive plans came in the first half when starting fullback Lauren Sesselmann went down with what looked like a potentially ugly knee injury. Head coach John Herdman fully intends to utilize his outside defenders in the attacking areas (as evidenced by the number of times Rhian Wilkinson made her way into Haiti's penalty area), so even though Sesselmann told media she was "OK" post-match, there'll be some hand-wringing for the next few days. Fortunately, though, Chelsea Stewart showed some good signs after subbing in for Sesselmann, making a number of incisive passes.

When it comes to filling a missing player's shoes, no one's going to be able to quite do the trick when it comes to the injured Diana Matheson (could any of her teammates actually fit in her shoes?), but Desiree Scott showed composure in a holding role, while midfield compatriot Kelly Parker did yeowoman's work all over the park, being rewarded late with a goal of her own.

Then, of course, there's the crowd. Those predisposed to take a negative slant on it will, of course, do so. But whatever the final attendance figure was (estimate was in the 7,500 range), it can't be denied that the Voyageurs in attendance (most of whom count themselves as Southsiders when it comes to club matters) made themselves heard throughout the entirety of the match. The impact of the cheering, the chanting and the semi-spontaneous rendition of O Canada on the players can't be overstated -- particularly when crunch time arrives and the opposition becomes tougher.

So what did we learn on Thursday night? Not much. Christine Sinclair is terrific. The Haitian team is awful. And Canada's sitting atop their group. Things grow from here. Players gain experience. More seats at B.C. Place gain occupants. And each game, each play, each moment gains more significance.

We all know this is going to come down to the semifinal next Friday. Win and go to the Olympics. It's that simple. But a little momentum is always nice. And that's what tonight provided: A little momentum.

And on Sunday night, Canada tries to gain a little bit more.
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