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Canada's women's soccer team hopes to keep its historic Olympic run going

08/05/2012 02:30 EDT | Updated 10/05/2012 05:12 EDT
LONDON - Canada's women's soccer team has already made history at the London Olympics — and the players aren't keen to end their storybook run just yet.

The Canadians battle a familiar foe Monday night at Manchester's Old Trafford, when they play the United States in the semifinals.

Canada booked its spot in the final four for the first time in history after finishing eighth in its Olympic debut in Beijing.

The confident Canadians have played arguably their best soccer ever in a tie with Sweden and 2-0 win over Great Britain in the quarters, and midfielder Sophie Schmidt said if there was ever a time they could topple the U.S., it's now.

"We feel like we're in ecstasy," the Abbotsford, B.C., native told FIFA.com. "It may sound a bit odd, but we knew we were going to beat Great Britain and reach the semi-finals. It's exactly this belief in ourselves which marks us out right now."

The Canadians, led by star strikers Christine Sinclair and Melissa Tancredi — with seven goals between them on the tournament — don't have history on their side.

The No. 1-ranked U.S. has won 42 of the 49 meetings between the two teams, defeating Canada 4-0 in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament in Vancouver last winter. Canada's last win over its southern rival was a 3-0 victory in 2001.

The Canadians took the U.S. to extra time in the Olympic quarter-finals four years ago in Beijing before losing 2-1. A loss will leave them battling for bronze with either Japan or France.

Elsewhere Monday, kayaker Adam van Koeverden begins his quest for a fourth Olympic medal in the K-1 1,000 metre heats. The 30-year-old from Oakville, Ont., won gold and bronze at the 2004 Athens Games, and added a silver four years later in Beijing.

Jessica Zelinka is back on the track after her heartbreaking seventh place finish in the heptathlon. The 30-year-old from London, Ont., is one of three Canadian women in the 100-metre hurdles.

Zelinka has never competed in an international hurdles race, but earned the spot after winning the Olympic trials in the event.

"It will be fun, I'm just going to go out there and run," Zelinka said. "Even if I'm beat up, which I totally am, I'm just running for 12 seconds, not for a period of time over two days straight (like the heptathlon)."

Mary Spencer of Wiarton, Ont., steps into the ring to begin her bid for one of the first medals awarded in women's boxing. Spencer, who earned a bye to the quarter-finals, fights China's Jinzi Li.

Alexandre Despatie continues his comeback from his diving accident seven weeks ago when he competes in the preliminaries of the three-metre springboard. The 27-year-old from Laval, Que., a two-time Olympic silver medallist, hit his head on the board in training, leaving him with a concussion a 10-centimetre gash on his forehead that required surgery to repair.

World champion Tara Whitten of Edmonton, part of Canada's bronze-medal performance in the team pursuit Saturday, chases another podium finish on Day 1 of the two-day omnium.

Synchronized swimmers Elise Marcotte of Quebec City and Marie-Pier Boudreau-Gagnon of Riviere-du-Loup, Que., perform their duets free routine.

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