Josee Belanger's goal in the 52nd minute carried host Canada past Switzerland, 1-0, and into the quarterfinals of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup on June 21.
Thanks to Josee Belanger, Canada is moving on to the quarterfinals of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup.
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Belanger's goal in the 52nd minute carried the host nation past Switzerland, 1-0, and into the quarterfinal round of the tournament on June 21, per FIFA's official website. He cross shot hit the far post and then bounced off Swiss goalkeeper Galle Thalmann and into the net.
Belanger told The Toronto Star's Laura Armstrong on Sunday she was surprised her shot actually went in:
"I kind of don't remember how it happened; it just happened," Belanger said. "I'm happy that I got the calm and didn't hesitate and went straight for the shot."
Armstrong notes it was Belanger's second attempt. He first one came half an hour earlier which Thalmann denied.
Switzerland's Ramona Bachmann had a chance to put her team on the board in the 11th minute but had her shot near the post snuffed out by Canada's Erin McLeod, per FIFA.com.
Bachmann tried to improvise several minutes later by feeding the ball to Lara Dickenmann on a low-hard cross into the box, but the latter missed, per Armstrong.
With the game still scoreless at the break, the Canadians' mistakes like several poor passes kept them from pulling away, per The Toronto Star.
McLeod told Armstrong it was Canada's head coach, John Herdman, who motivated her and her teammates to come out strong in the game's final 45 minutes:
"John, he just kind of put it pretty simply," McLeod told The Toronto Star. "He said, 'We can't have any regrets, nobody's walking, no one's going to be stagnant this second half, we're going for it.' And everybody did."
Striker Melissa Tancredi had Canada's first chance to score in the second half, but Thalmann's diving save thwarted that, per Armstrong.
Several minutes later, Belanger struck to put the Canadians ahead to stay, per The Toronto Star.
Despite Canada's win and the outright quarterfinals berth, midfielder Kaylyn Kyle told Armstrong she feels the team has yet to have an outstanding performance in tournament.
"Really, it's about us and putting on a full 90-minute performance," she quipped. "I don't think we've done that yet this tournament."
Canada managed to hold off Switzerland despite not having prized defender Kadeisha Buchanan, who has not trained in three days due to an abdominal strain, per Armstrong.
Had it not been for Belanger coming back to the Canadian national team four years ago, the team might not be in the position it is in today.
Herdman revealed to The Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones on June 21 (via The Toronto Sun) Belanger actually almost walked away from the game of soccer four years ago, when she wanted to have a family of her own:
"She was about to settle down and have kids. We talked her back into the program.
"I remember phoning her house. We talked for about a minute and we weren't getting anywhere. So I flew out to Quebec to a coaches conference and I called her out. She was in the audience. She told me her recent experience wasn't very good and she fell out of love with the game.
"I told her what a wonderful opportunity she had with a home World Cup and an Olympics coming right up. We went back and forth in e-mails and finally she decided to commit."
For her part, Belanger told Jones she's glad she grabbed the opportunity.
"I remember when I first met him (Herdman) I couldn't understand his accent," Belanger told The Edmonton Sun. "I think we learn in life we have to take the opportunities we're given."
Canada will next face the winner of No. 6 England's match against No. 11 Norway at BC Place in Vancouver on June 22, per The Toronto Star.
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