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A Greater Goal: Why Canada Still Won at Women's World Cup

Canadian soccer has been mired in negativity for too long. It's time to celebrate the fact that the Canadian women's national team really did achieve a "greater goal" at Canada 2015.

Rich Lam/Getty Images

The words Canada and soccer have traditionally never gone well together. To some, they read like a punchline, to others they read as inferior and to many they read as irrelevant.

However, for the past month a group of dedicated women have made the words "Canada soccer" mean so much more in the eyes of millions of Canadians.

As they were eliminated from the tournament, the reaction from many was expected. They pointed fingers at a centreback's slipup, called for the head of a coach too loyal to certain players and labelled the team as "overrated".

This is the kind of negativity that bogged down Canadian soccer just as it looks ready to finally take a leap to the next level. For some, pessimism seems to reign eternal.

However, instead of focusing on the negative after Canada lost a heartbreaking 2-1 quarterfinal to the English, it is time to celebrate this team for what they are: the most influential Canadian soccer team of all time.

They moved the needle in so many ways: breaking national sports attendance records, their TV numbers and how they inspired a nation both in 2012 and 2015.

There is no reason to be embarrassed, to apologize or to look for people to blame. Canada can exit Canada 2015 holding their heads high, knowing that "a greater goal" was truly accomplished.

This doesn't mean dismissing the many negatives that encompassed and ultimately eliminated this Canadian team. It's about the mentality behind how they are addressed going forward.

It's not about pointing fingers and looking for superficial answers as to why Canada wasn't able to hoist the World Cup on home soil. It's about asking how the nation can develop the next Ashley Lawrence, Kadeisha Buchanan or Christine Sinclair.

It's not about why Canada's loss against England was a letdown and a byproduct of a horribly run team. It's about using matches like this as inspiration to push the program into more meaningful matches.

Even the fact that this team has been labeled as "overrated" is something to be celebrated, they are likely the first ever Canadian soccer team to be considering as such. This means there was actually hype by the media around a Canadian soccer team in Canada.

That hype came around a golden generation headed by Christine Sinclair, one that ultimately proved they were too old to be world beaters. There is an idea out there that a window was missed with this team, and its somewhat true.

We won't see another Canadian team like this for maybe even a decade. But that doesn't mean they haven't paved the way for the future. Because of this group more people than ever now care about Canadian soccer, and that interest can go a long way towards rebuilding the program.

Canadians have been quick to jump on the team's veteran stars, not understanding that those are the very same players who made all of this possible. They deserve to go out with their heads held high instead of scorned on social media.

The criticism has also been heavy on John Herdman, which is equally ridiculous. Sure, some of his roster decisions were confusing but under him there is no doubt that this Canadian team punched above their weight. He built this team up big enough that he looked responsible for their downfall.

During that downfall Canada fought till the very end. In the past Canadian teams have withered and died after conceding two goals in the first 15 minutes. Instead, this team never looked eliminated until the very end.

That's because this team was proud. They were proud of themselves, proud of each other and proud to be wearing the Canadian crest. It something that hasn't always been the case for Canada, but is quickly starting to take over as the mentality across all levels of Canada soccer.

Pride is so important because it is infectious. Of the millions of Canadians that watched the team play during the tournament, all will have barred witness to how proud this team was the represent them.

An end can always mean a new beginning, but only if optimism rules the day. Days like today prove the narrative around Canadian soccer is changing, and it needs positiveness to carry it forward.