Canada's Sinclair looks ahead to bronze game
MANCHESTER, England (AP) It was the greatest game of her life. Canadian women's soccer player Christine Sinclair likely won't remember it that way.
Sinclair scored three goals against two-time defending champion United States in the women's Olympic semifinal, but it was not enough to get Canada through in a match filled with controversial calls that didn't go the Canadians' way in the end.
Sinclair said she felt the victory was taken away from Canada because of alleged refereeing mistakes and was not in the mood to celebrate after a performance that her coach called a "moment in Canadian history."
All she wants to do is regroup and move on, hoping to come up with another big game to give Canada the bronze in its match against France on Thursday in Coventry.
"I wouldn't want to be the team that plays us next," the 29-year-old forward said. "Even with this result, knowing that we are not playing for gold."
Sinclair scored all of Canada's goals in the heartbreaking 4-3 loss to the U.S. in extra time on Monday. She played one of the best matches of her career, putting pressure on the American defenders from the start to give Canada a chance for the upset win.
She netted in the 22nd, 67th and 73rd minutes at the Old Trafford, each time putting Canada ahead in the scoreboard.
"To score three goals like that, that's a moment in Canadian sporting history," coach John Herdman said. "That's special. I don't know how many times she's done that before or how many other athletes have done something of that magnitude against all odds really."
Even Sinclair's opponents were impressed.
"What a wonderful player," U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. "Scoring goals in a semifinal, and the way she scored the goals as well. She is a very good player and was a handful for our defenders. Our defense is pretty good but she scored three goals, it tells you how good she is."
U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe added: "Sinclair is unbelievable. She's definitely one of the best players in the world, one of the best players ever. She had a brilliant game, she's the heart of the Canadian team and I'm sure she's crushed. We were joking in the dressing room about scoring a hat trick and then losing 4-3."
Indeed, the goals meant little after the U.S. rallied and eventually got the late extra-time winner, keeping Canada winless against its North American rival over 11 years. Canada was trying to reach its first Olympic final.
Sinclair's huge performance faded even more because of the two controversial refereeing decisions that led to an 80th-minute penalty kick that allowed the U.S. to send the match into extra time.
The Canadians complained of a rare indirect free kick called against goalkeeper Erin McLeod for holding the ball for more than six seconds inside the box, a foul that led to the hand ball call which also left the Canadian players in dismay.
"We are disappointed and upset," she said. "We felt that the referee took it away from us. We feel like we didn't lose, we feel like it was taken from us. It's a shame in a game like that, which is so important, that the ref decided the result before the game started."
Sinclair said she felt the result could finally go in Canada's favor in such a huge stage hadn't it been for the controversial calls made by referee Christiana Pedersen of Norway.
"We feel cheated," she said.
With the three goals on Monday, Sinclair tied Abby Wambach as the second-best international scorer all-time with 143 goals, behind Mia Hamm's world record of 158.
"We play the Americans a lot and I have had a few chances," she said. "For me, there is something about playing the best team in the world that brings out the best from me."