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Women's World Cup Team

Thursday, October 16, 2003

McLeod’s World Cup Experience

I was asked to do a summary of the 2003 USA Women's World Cup in about three paragraphs. I accepted the offer because I feel so proud and honoured that I was even a part of the Canadian National team, but now I have realized how difficult this experience is to put into words.

Our first game was against Germany, the World Champions. Going into this game we knew they were ranked about number one in the world, no pressure right? We ended up losing 4-1 but no one on the team thought we played anywhere near our potential.

We then went on to play Argentina and were lucky to come out with a win, but once again we were no where near how good we have been in the past. To be honest, I was worried. Here was a team with the capability to go all the way and we were struggling. My team-mates almost seemed like strangers and something needed to change; we needed to get our fire back.

We then went on to have several player meetings where everyone had the chance to voice their opinions on why we were not doing too well. Andrea Neil slightly altered a team bonding activity from Amber Allen which left the team with this new feeling of togetherness. We realized that every time we stepped onto the field we were playing not to lose, but now we wanted to play to win.

Our next game was against Japan, our turning point in the tournament. There was this buzz in the air for the whole game, and for some reason I knew everything was going to work out for us. We had already made history by beating Argentina, but I think the first time any of us really felt proud of how we did was after Japan. Now we were off to the quarter-finals, in a new location and a new team.

China is known as one of the strongest teams in the world. We went into this game knowing that no one expected us to win. It was a battle; I have never seen so many individuals work so hard together, it was brilliant. All of us on the bench were screaming at the top of our lungs as we watched the final seconds disappear; we were going to play Sweden...

I think this game (against Sweden) was probably the most heartbreaking of the whole tournament. We were eleven minutes away from going to the gold medal game and we could almost taste it, then everything seemed to go wrong. The bus ride home that night was dead silent, there was really nothing anyone could have said to make the loss any easier to swallow.

With a week's rest the team's spirits rose up again and we were eager to play the Americans.

The Americans always give us a good battle. Their entire line up is full of world famous females. Even though I hate to admit it, their game is pretty to watch and our game against them wasn't. The game could have gone either way and there were so many chances for both teams as no one was giving up. When Milbret scored the third goal against us, this disgusting feeling of defeat sat in the bottom of my stomach; we had lost to the Americans again. We didn’t go down without a fight and at the end of the game most of us knew that this is just the beginning of Canada's journey. Most of us are pretty young and all of us will remember this feeling. We have a lot of unfinished business to take care of.

We came fourth, and fourth in the world isn't all that bad! We now look forward to Olympic qualifying where we hope to once again prove to the world how strong we are. I guess what amazes me most after this experience is the amount of support we have received along the journey. I will never forget the game against China when all through the stands in Portland there were Canadian flags everywhere. It is moments like those that I feel so proud to be Canadian and so fortunate to be able to play with the maple leaf on my jersey.

Erin McLeod

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