LONDON, September 7, 2012 - Canada kept Sweden at bay to win today's Wheelchair Rubgy match and advance to the semi-finals against the United States. With rapid back and forth action, the final score of 53-52 came down to who retained possession when the buzzer went off.
Canada last played Sweden at the Canada Cup earlier this year. That match was decided with a one point margin, similar to today's outcome. Both teams and the fans that packed the Basketball Arena at Olympic Park knew they were in for a battle.
"We knew it was going to be a hard game," said Trevor Hirschfeild. "Sweden's played tough that last few times we've faced them, so we knew it wasn't going to be easy, but we wanted to wear them down and in the end we did and came out on top."
In the dying moments of the match, with Canada up by only one point, Mike Whitehead threw a long pass to Trevor Hirschfield. The ball narrowly avoided a Swedish player and Trevor sprinted hard to catch the ball and cross the line with a fraction of a second to spare. Canada went up by a crucial two points in the defining moment of the game.
With 10 seconds on the clock, vetran Garett Hickling was triple-teamed with the ball trying to avoid a jump ball situation. In the process, he swung the ball towards a Swedish player's face and both were called for technical fouls. With four seconds remaining, the game was three-on-three on what was some of the most dramatic action of this Paralympic games.
"We always feel that the game's going to come to us in the third or fourth quarter with the work the guys have donoe with their strength and conditioning, said head coach Kevin Orr. "The guys held their composure and I'm really proud of the way they played. They played to win the game. You can play not to lose, but they played to win and I'm really proud of the way they came through."
Canada will face rivals the United States in the semi-finals tomorrow afternoon. In a rematch of the infamous 2004 match recorded in the Murderball documentary, Canada will look to best top ranked United States and make a play for the gold medal.
"We match up well with the USA," added Coach Orr. "They're deep, they have a good team, they're well coached, but we have a great chance. We're deep, we're balanced, we have a young guy that's really making an impact for us. We have nothing to lose at this point. The USA has everything to lose and we have everything to gain. We came here for a gold medal and that's what we're aiming for."