The hopes of many local residents and thousands of other Canadians were crushed on Saturday, as Team Canada fell 2-1 to England in the quarterfinals of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, ending their run in the tournament.
Canada now looks to prepare its squad for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil and the seemingly distant World Cup in 2019.
Abbotsford’s Sophie Schmidt, 27, will be a core piece as the national team continues its transitional phase with younger members possibly moving up to claim the place of veterans, including Christine Sinclair and goalkeeper Erin McLeod — both 32.
Schmidt was one of Canada’s most compelling talents on the pitch. While she remained off the scoresheet for the five matches played, most of the distribution began with her in Canada’s midfield.
She also demonstrated strong defensive ability, tracking back and landing hard tackles on more than a few occasions, most notably in the quarterfinal game which almost led to a goal.
Schmidt is currently a free agent. She last played club soccer for Sky Blue FC in the National Women’s Soccer League, in 2013-14.
Most promising, though, was 20-year-old midfielder Ashley Lawrence who demonstrated she’s ready to take on a greater role in 2016 and beyond.
Other standout performances came from Kadeisha Buchanan, 19, and 26-year-old Allysha Chapman.
Buchanan, in particular, looks primed to anchor Canada’s defence for years to come. Both she and Lawrence will take the field July 11 for Canada’s U23 women’s soccer team at the Pan Am Games.