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Canada 0:2 Germany: One Dream Ended, Another Has Begun

Canada's U20 women's team went down fighting against the Germans, but in the process showed that they possessed real quality. While the loss will sting, the underlying theme is that the future is far more bright than most predicted for the women's program.

Todd Korol

In a knockout tournament, especially the World Cup, it is impossible for a loss to truly feel like a victory. It didn't matter how it happened, a loss that eliminated the home side from Canada 2014 could not be seen as a positive. But while the match overall was not a positive, there were plenty of positives that made up its construct for Canada. They may have exited the tournament, but they did not do so without leaving their mark.

The 2-0 victory for Germany felt more than a little unfair to Canada, who controlled play for large parts of the match. The Germans scored in each half, Pauline Bremer's controversial tally was proven moot by a late Rebecca Knaak goal that insured victory. But Canada were not without a plethora of chances to make that score line far more favourable.

In the end, it was a classic tale of Canadian finishing, or lack thereof, which ultimately let the team down. Especially in the final minutes, when a result seemed out of reach, Canada were not able to take several very good opportunities that were well created. Some final third composure and, as mentioned, this could have been a completely different match.

Defensively, a couple of lapses also cost Canada. An uncharacteristic mistake by Rebecca Quinn and Kadeisha Buchanan, both going up at the same time to try to clear a longball, resulted in a breakaway for Bremer, which offside or not completely could have been avoided. Then some poor late set piece coverage cost Canada the chance of what almost seemed like an inevitable equalizer.

But overall, the play at the backend deserved credit, as they largely frustrated a very talented German offense that has scored five goals twice in this tournament. Captain Kinley McNicoll may have had her best match of the tournament when her team needed it most. Sura Yekka was also top notch on the other side.

Kailen Sheriden clearly grew into this tournament, as she preserved her team's chances. The unselfish Germans put her in a lot of difficult situations throughout the match, but she responded very well to the majority of them. She will feel bad for being rounded by Bremer, but that was more down to the striker's skill than her goaltending.

Another thing that was evident from the tournament is the fact that there is actually a very positive future for the women's side of Canada's soccer system. A lot of players stood out as potential candidates for future involvement for the national team, and several of them have already been involved. There was a lot of good foreshadowing for Canada 2015.

The underlying theme was that this team truly were not afraid of their opponents, something that is as uncommon for Canadian teams as, well, goals. They were not intimidated whatsoever by the Germans and it showed as they attacked them with confidence.

Those who have earned senior calls ups demonstrated why John Herdman has brought them into the fold, especially on the backline. Buchanan was a level above throughout the tournament, and Quinn was not far behind. Yekka didn't have the best competition, but showed glimpses of her talent.

In the midfield, Jessie Fleming, Emma Fletcher, Ashley Lawrence, Kylie Davis and Valerie Sanderson all had some standout moments. Fletcher was especially impressive as she was integral to the midfield buildup. Her effort off of the cross bar would have been the goal of the tournament had it only been a little bit lower.

The attack was ultimately led by Janine Beckie, who distinguished herself at this tournament. Her two goals were the by-product of confident and skilled attacking play. Nichelle Prince was another who contributed heavily to the attack, and her injury early in the match against Germany was a huge blow to Canada's chances.

Overall, despite losing out in the quarterfinals, there is definitely a lot to be gained from this tournament. The 22,421 attendance in Edmonton was evidence that this tournament had grown in popularity as the team went forward, as many had predicted. The numbers bode well for attendance in 2015.

If nothing else, the senior team now only need to look at the U20's for inspiration going into next year's tournament. Because if they play the way the youth team did at their peak, with the quality the senior side possesses, the result will be a lot better.