Canada defeats U.S. in Olympics soccer, winning spot in final

TOKYO — Canadian women’s soccer coach Bev Priestman said the goal for her squad at the Tokyo Games was to upgrade the colour of the medal it had won at the previous two Olympics.

The Canadians did just that on Monday, and earned a bit of revenge against their rivals in the process.

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Jessie Fleming scored on a penalty in the 74th minute to lead Canada to a 1-0 win over the United States in semifinal action at Ibaraki Kashima Stadium.

Bronze medallists at the 2012 London Games, and again four years later in Rio de Janeiro, the Canadians will earn the medal upgrade they are seeking Friday at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo. Canada will face the winner of the semifinal between Sweden and Australia.

The last time Canada and the United States met in Olympic soccer was in the semifinals of the London Games. In a wildly entertaining contest, the Americans won 4-3 in extra time despite a hat trick from Canadian captain Christine Sinclair.

Meanwhile, it’s four up, four down for Canada’s top-ranked beach volleyball duo – and they’ve done it without dropping a single set.

Toronto’s Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan of Kitchener, Ont., remain perfect at the Tokyo Olympics after winning their round-of-16 match.

The Canadian duo dispatched Spain’s Liliana Fernandez Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan 2-0, overpowering their opponents 21-13, 21-13.

Humana-Paredes and Pavan, the reigning world champions, have won all four of their pool matches 2-0.

Canada is the only country with two teams left in the tournament.

Humana-Paredes and Pavan will face Australia’s Mariafe Artacho Del Solar and Taliqua Clancy in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

That match will be held right after Heather Bansley of Waterdown, Ont., and Toronto’s Brandie Wilkerson play Latvia’s Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka in their quarterfinal matchup.

“Normally at this stage there would be two Americans or two Brazilians but you’re seeing two Canadians now and I think that says a lot about our program and our federation,” said Humana-Paredes. “I think as a country we should be really proud of where we are.”

Humana-Paredes and Pavan have been dominant since they first partnered together five years ago. They’ve reached the finals at 14 international events and won seven, including the 2019 world title and a 2018 Commonwealth Games gold.

In track and field, two sisters from Toronto are through to the semifinals of the 1,500 metres.

Gabriela Debues-Stafford won her heat in four minutes 3.70 seconds ahead of Britain’s Laura Muir to qualify for Wednesday’s first semifinal. Her younger sister Lucia Stafford finished seventh with a personal-best time of 4:03.52 and advanced to the second semifinal.

“I have my eyes on something big in the finals, so I’m happy to get the first round done,” said Debues-Stafford. “I felt really good doing it.”

Natalia Hawthorn of North Vancouver, B.C., came in 10th in her heat and was eliminated.

Toronto’s Crystal Emmanuel failed to advance to the finals of the 200 metres despite a bounce-back performance that saw her win her heat with a season-best time of 22.74 seconds. Her semifinal effort fell short of her earlier speed as she finished sixth in 23.05.

There were some mixed results for Canada in canoe sprint.

Andréanne Langlois of Lac Beauport, Que., and Michelle Russell of Fall River, N.S., qualified for the 200-metre kayak single semifinals. Langlois won her quarterfinal in 41.728 seconds. Russell narrowly advanced, beating out Britain’s Emily Lewis by five thousandths of a second.

“I’m glad to be on the right side of the photo finish,” said Russell. “I had no idea where I was for the whole race. When we crossed the line, Emily Lewis right next to me, we’re looking at each other and didn’t know what was going on.”

The men’s team of Roland Varga and Connor Fitzpatrick advanced to the 1,000-metre canoe double semifinal.

But Simon McTavish of Oakville, Ont., was eliminated from the 1,000 kayak singles. The team of Alanna Bray-Lougheed and Madeline Schmidt failed to progress in the 500-metre kayak double.

In wrestling, Danielle Lappage of Olds, Alta., lost her opening women’s 68-kilogram match 7-0 to Russian wrestler Khanum Velieva and failed to advance to the quarterfinal.

“I was really confident, I had a good feeling and I just thought it would have ended differently,” said Lappage.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 2, 2021.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly stated Crystal Emmanuel had qualified for the 200-metre final out of the heats.

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