Aug. 3, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – There was a whole lot of winning going on for Notre Dame representatives and their teams, including significant historical moments for Fighting Irish players from Canada, during Friday’s action at the 2012 Summer Olympics in England.
Paced by another solid effort from forward Melissa Tancredi (’04), Canada advanced to the semifinals of the Olympic soccer tournament for the first time with a 2-0 victory over host Great Britain in a quarterfinal match on Friday at City of Coventry Stadium in Coventry, England. In just its second Olympic appearance (after a quarterfinal finish in 2008), Canada has bounced back from an opening-day loss to Japan (2-1) by going unbeaten in its past three matches, fashioning a 3-0 win over South Africa and a 2-2 draw with Sweden before Friday’s shutout of Great Britain, earning Canada its second semifinal berth in a major international tournament (following a fourth-place finish at the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup).
Tancredi started and played all 90 minutes for Canada on Friday, but was held off the scoresheet for the first time in these Olympics (she still is tied for the tournament lead with four goals, currently sharing the top spot for adidas Golden Boot honors with Abby Wambach of the United States). Meanwhile, Candace Chapman (’05) once again did not play as she continues to rehabilitate a calf injury she suffered late in the opener against Japan.
Canada’s next opponent will be a familiar foe, as the United States earned its third consecutive shutout and fourth win in a row, while reaching the semifinals for the fifth time in as many Olympic women’s soccer tournaments, with a 2-0 quarterfinal victory over New Zealand on Friday at St. James’ Park in Newcastle, England. For the first time since the Americans’ Olympic opener against France (a 4-2 win), two-time gold medalist Shannon Boxx (’99) was in uniform, but she did not see action as she works her way back from an injured hamstring suffered against the French.
With Friday’s quarterfinal results, Notre Dame now is guaranteed to have an alum earn a medal for the fourth consecutive Olympiad, dating back to 2000, when Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf (’98) took home a silver with the United States (followed by golds in 2004 and 2008 with the U.S. for Boxx and Markgraf). Ironically, on its way to the 2008 gold medal, the United States defeated Canada, 2-1 in extra time, in a quarterfinal match in Shanghai, China, with Boxx assisting on Natasha Kai’s match-winning goal in the 101st minute.
This year’s United States-Canada semifinal match will be played at 2:45 p.m. (ET) Monday in Manchester, England, at legendary Old Trafford, home of famed English club Manchester United. The match can be seen live on the NBC Sports Network and the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel, as well as on-line at nbcolympics.com and through the NBC Live Extra mobile app.
Monday’s match will be the third between the United States and Canada in 2012, with the Americans winning the first two meetings — 4-0 on Jan. 29 in the final of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament at BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, and 2-1 on June 30 in the Olympic send-off match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Boxx did not play in the first match (due to a coach’s decision since the U.S. already had clinched its Olympic berth), while Tancredi was a halftime substitute in both contests and factored into the second match, scoring what was then the tying goal in the 57th minute, beating U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo with a rising shot that clipped the crossbar on its way in. Chapman started and went the distance in the first meeting, and came on as a substitute at halftime in the second outing.
Fueled by 11 points and three assists from Notre Dame junior forward Natalie Achonwa (Guelph, Ontario/St. Mary’s Catholic), Canada clinched its first trip to the Olympic quarterfinals in 28 years with a 79-73 win over Brazil (the world’s sixth-ranked team) in a preliminary round game on Friday at the Olympic Basketball Arena in London. It was the second consecutive double-digit scoring day for Achonwa, who was coming off a 14-point, eight-rebound effort against France on Wednesday in another Group B contest.
Canada (2-2) qualified for the Olympics for the first time since 2000, and now the Canadians are assured of their best Olympic finish since the 1984 Los Angeles Games, when they placed fourth, losing to China, 63-57 in the bronze medal game in a six-team tournament that was significantly affected by the Soviet-led boycott and did not include some of the world’s top teams. In addition, as the host nation in 1976, Canada finished sixth (out of six teams) at the inaugural Olympic women’s basketball tournament.
Currently fourth in Group B, Canada has one more preliminary round game to play, taking on reigning silver medalist Australia (3-1) at 9:30 a.m. (ET) Sunday at the Olympic Basketball Arena in London. That game will be televised live on the NBC Olympic Basketball Channel, as well as on-line at nbcolympics.com and ctvolympics.ca, and through the NBC Live Extra mobile app. With a victory over the Australians, Canada could move up to second or third place in the final group standings, which would likely put the Canadians on the opposite side of the quarterfinal bracket from the United States.
COMING UP SATURDAY…
Notre Dame senior fencer Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas/Earl Warren) will be back in action on Saturday, helping represent the United States in the team epee competition at the Excel Exhibition Centre in London. The Americans will face Italy at 5:30 a.m. (ET) in a quarterfinal match, with the semifinals set for 7 a.m. (ET), the placement (fifth/eighth-place) matches to be held at 10 a.m. (ET), the bronze medal match to be contested at 1 p.m. (ET) and the gold medal match scheduled for 2:15 p.m. (ET). The full team epee competition can be seen on-line at nbcolympics.com, as well as through the NBC Live Extra mobile app.
The United States has not participated in women’s team epee at the Olympics since the event’s first appearance in the Games back in 1996 in Atlanta, when the U.S. finished eighth in the 11-team competition.
This will be Hurley’s second appearance of this year’s Olympics, having also participated in the individual epee competition on Monday. After a first-round bye, Hurley lost in the round of 32 to Laura Flessel-Colovic of France, 15-12.
For more information on Notre Dame participants at the 2012 London Olympics, visit the special Notre Dame Olympics microsite (und.com/olympics), the official London Olympics web site (london2012.com) or the official NBC Olympics web site (nbcolympics.com).
— ND —