Stephanie Labbe returns from China and returns with another blog
Canadian keeper Stephanie Labbe landed back home after her team’s flight to Canada from China following the Four Nations Tournament. Labbe and the Canadian Women’s National Team finished with a 2-1 record in China. On the final day of the tournament, Labbe and Canada shut out Sweden, 1-0.
January 27, 2011
For the past two years under our new coach, Carolina Morace and her coaching staff, we have been fighting and pushing our way up the world rankings. We have new goals for ourselves, not to just be in the top 10 for the FIFA rankings, but to be amongst the top few in the world, and in our final match of the Four Nations Tournament in China, we proved just that. Since 2006 we have never won against a top-4 team in the world, and we did just that against Sweden in our final game. We came out with high intensity and high focus as a team. We quickly put Sweden on their heels, and forced them to play our tempo of game. We put pressure on them all over the field, and forced them to make errors in their defensive end. We created many corners and free kicks, which resulted in many goal chances, including some great saves by the Swedish keeper, or “målvakt” as they say in Sweden. Finally, we were able to get on the scoreboard with a great goal by Sinclair, assisted by Emily Zurrer. It was a fast counter-attack, which came off an amazing header of Emily from the Swedish keeper’s punt. Sinclair put on her turbo jets and raced behind the Swedish backline to put away the ball and give us the 1-0 lead.
For the remainder of the game we continued to push and create chances, and at the same time play solid defensively to finish the game with a shutout. Sweden was a skilled, physical team, and created many corners and goal-scoring chances as well, but we were composed enough to not allow them any goals. Knowing that we are five months away from the opening game of the World Cup, and having the success we are having, is such a great feeling. We know we have so much potential as a team, and with all the time we have together in the next few months, we are only going to see more of this. This victory was especially exciting for me, having played against many of the Swedish girls for the past two years, playing in Sweden. There have been some fun rivalries in the past when I am in Sweden when cheering for our respective hockey teams during the World Juniors or the Olympics, and of course Canada has come out on top of Sweden in those, but now, to be able to go back and add women’s soccer to the count is just icing on the cake for me!
I am so proud of this team, and I am even more excited about the things to come for us, and the possibilities that lie ahead. Once again, this is another huge stepping stone for us on our epic climb to the top of the mountain!