On one of the biggest stages of them all, Shelina Zadorsky earned a medal.
Friday afternoon, Canada’s women’s national soccer team handed Brazil a 2-1 defeat in the bronze-medal match of the Rio 2016 Olympics, finishing Zadorsky’s long-kept Olympic dream.
Since being part of Canada’s national team program since 2007 — when she was a part of the youth national team — Zadorsky has traveled the world in the hopes of ultimately landing herself a spot on the Olympic podium.
After captaining the Michigan women’s soccer team that made the Elite Eight in 2013, playing for the Perth Glory in Australia, competing for the top women’s soccer league in Sweden and finally being a part of the National Women’s Soccer League’s historic fourth year this season, Zadorsky finally found herself in Rio de Janeiro.
It may not have been the gold-medal path Canada wished for, but the reigning bronze medalists from the London 2012 Games still have something to show their hard work paid off. After going undefeated in Group F preliminary play, Canada downed France, 1-0, in the quarterfinals before suffering a 2-0 loss to Germany in the semifinals.
Zadorsky, Canada’s starting center back, played just 109 minutes in the preliminary rounds. In the team’s opening game against Australia, Zadorsky received a red card in the 19th minute, which kept her out of the next game against Zimbabwe. Zadorsky returned in the final preliminary game against Germany and played all 90 minutes.
In Friday’s bronze-medal match, Zadorsky was instrumental in Canada’s victory. In the 25th minute, Zadorsky cleared the ball out of the 18-yard box off a Brazil free kick, which ended up at the feet of defender Ashley Lawrence. Lawrence cleared a defender while making a run up the left side and crossed the ball over to midfielder Deanne Rose, who touched the ball past the Brazilian goalkeeper and into the net.
With Canada leading 2-0 in the 80th minute, a Brazilian forward broke past Zadorsky and scored Brazil’s first goal of the game. But that was the only goal that fell for Brazil, which was unable to find an equalizer in the final 13 minutes of the game.
During the final stretch, Zadorsky made a crucial stop at the end line which otherwise would have resulted in a corner kick for Brazil. Later in the 90th minute, Zadorsky cleared the ball from the 18-yard box as Brazil made one final push to tie the game and force extra time.