Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Women Bring New Identity in Summer Olympics Soccer Qualifying: Canada Brings New Identity in Olympic Qualifying

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Women Bring New Identity in Summer Olympics Soccer Qualifying: Canada Brings New Identity in Olympic Qualifying

Article excerpt

VANCOUVER - After crashing spectacularly out of the 2011 Women's World Cup, Canada's soccer team has found a new beginning and a new identity.

English coach John Herdman has taken the pressure out of winning and freed his players creativity on the field.

"I think they've shed an old skin," Herdman said after Friday's decisive 3-1 victory over Mexico that qualified Canada for the London Summer Olympics.

"They do things that some of the players who have been playing for 15 years of their life and have never been asked to do certain things.

"They've bought into a new style and a new philosophy and a new self-image of themselves as footballers. They've reinvented themselves."

They didn't fold when Veronica Perez's shot through traffic drew Las Tricolores to within a goal in the 67th minute.

"We're just a team that will never give up," said Christine Sinclair who led the Canadians again with two goals, scoring nine of their 16 goals in the tournament.

"It's something John's brought to this program: the fight. In the past we would have collapsed and we just kept going and kept battling, got that third goal that closed out the game."

Melissa Tancredi, who redirected Kelly Parker's cross from the edge of the six-yard box for what proved to be the winning goal, said the shackles have been unlocked under Herdman.

"We're more free," said the nine-year veteran from Ancaster, Ont., who played in the 2008 Beijing Olympics where Canada exited in the quarter-finals.

"We're more free to play. John's done a good job to play towards our strengths. It gives people a chance to make plays and do what they're good at."

That freedom and creativity was evident in the first game of the group stage when Tancredi flicked a ball back over her head for Sinclair to run on to and score in a 6-0 rout of Haiti.

"This whole tournament we've been working to build that (identity)," said Tancredi who set up Sinclair's insurance goal, leaving the Burnaby, B. …

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