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Canadian Women's Win Over France Will Leave Lasting Impression

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Canada is taking the hard route to a medal this time, and in the process proving how far they have come since London.

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There was no medal on the line this time as Canada defeated France 1-0, but last night's win may be just as meaningful for the program.

London was a fairy tale, a once in a lifetime run that coincided with near perfect circumstances. It wasn't sustainable, and at times, especially in their bronze medal clinching win over France, it was downright lucky. 

This tournament, on the other hand, has seen Canada make their own luck. There was no easy route to a medal this time, Canada has already played, and beaten, three of the top five teams in the World. Everything they have accomplished so far this tournament they have earned.

They haven't always been on the front foot in many matches, but instead have been able to limit their opponent's chances, and take advantage of their own.

Canada only needed one real chance against the French to eliminate them. Janine Beckie brilliantly beat a pair of French defenders down the right-hand side before volleying the ball across goal to Sophie Schmidt. The veteran midfielder calmly tapped the ball into the top corner. 

It was the third game this tournament where Beckie has led the way for Canada, as the 21-year-old striker is having a breakout tournament. Not on Canada's World Cup roster last year, Beckie has been everything that the Canadian team was missing.

Knowing that they could create chances of their own, it was up to Canada to hold off a potent French attack for 90-minutes. There were certainly a few breakdowns, but ,for the most part, Canada did so expertly. Even when the French were buzzing around their net they were confident and composed.

Canada's aggressive defending also played a big part. In their own half, they did not allow France to beat them. Sure, this led to 18 fouls and three yellow cards, but also stopped the French from being able to build up and momentum in the attacking third.

Luck certainly played a part for Canada, it has throughout the tournament. Kadeisha Buchanan really could have given France a penalty just ten minutes into the match for bringing down a French attacker in the box. A matter of inches could have seen Christine Sinclair score an own goal.

But none of that happened, and now Canada is off to its second straight Olympic medal round, and a rematch with Germany. It's a game that Canada don't just believe that they can win, but considering the group stage, they now know that they can beat the Germans.

With the United States losing in the quarterfinals, Japan nowhere to be found, and Germany the only top five country in the World still alive in Rio, there is an opening all of the sudden. Without a doubt, this is Canada's best chance at an incredibly unlikely Olympic gold medal. The odds just seem to be in their favour.

Even if they aren't, however, this tournament has proven that this won't be the last time that Canada challenges for a medal. In John Herdman, Beckie, Buchanan and the cast of other Olympic debutants, Canadian soccer is in great hands. This team has taken the foundation placed in London, and built something lasting upon it.