The Players: Sophie Schmidt

Sophie Schmidt remembers her last match at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. It is a match she would soon like to forget.

Sophie Schmidt remembers her last match at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. It is a match she would soon like to forget.

Seven minutes after Canada scored what should have been the goal to get them through to the second round, Australia struck back with but 90 seconds remaining on the clock. The goal (for a 2:2 draw) put Australia into the second round and sent Canada packing for home before the end of the night.

“I was devastated after that loss,” said Sophie Schmidt, then only 19 years old and in her first FIFA Women’s World Cup. She’s now 22, set to turn 23 in between Canada’s first and second matches of the 2011 edition in Germany.

“I think the team has kind of grown up,” said Schmidt. “Pretty much the core is the same, but we have all gained four years of experience.”

Canada plays Germany, France and Nigeria in the group phase of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011. As was the format in 2007, Canada needs to finish either first or second in the group to advance to the quarter-final phase. There is barely any room for error considering Germany is the two-time defending champion, France went undefeated in 2010, and Nigeria holds the experience of competing in every FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“We believe in ourselves that we can achieve our goals,” said Schmidt. “We believe in it. With (coach) Carolina Morace’s help, the staff has instilled that belief in us.”

Schmidt says she has developed “physically” as a player since 2007. She understands the game better and no longer relies simply on athleticism to compete against the best in the world.

“She (Morace) transformed our bodies,” said Schmidt. “It is not just being able to run. We are now smart soccer players. We are efficient; when we do run, it is sharp, precise, and it is 100 per cent when we need it to be.”

Morace’s transformation has proved successful, yielding results and leading to greater expectations for the FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer. Last November, the team won the 2010 CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifier in Cancún, Mexico.

“There are no more excuses,” said Schmidt. “We have everything to prove and everything to gain.”

Schmidt has already made more than 50 appearances for Canada since making her debut at age 16 on 19 April 2005. Schmidt played the full 90 minutes of a 1:1 draw with Netherlands that day, then made back-to-back starts against Germany plus another against France on a European tour. She scored her first goal in the 2:0 win over France on 27 April.

“I don’t think I spoke at all in that first camp,” said Schmidt of her first experience with the national team. “I was overwhelmed.” Still, she remembers those games fondly, especially her debut in the pouring rain which “reminded me of growing up and playing soccer in the rain.”

Schmidt, a midfielder, says she is the type of player that loves getting the ball. Under the new system implemented by Morace and her staff, Schmidt and the other midfielders enjoy a far greater role in the game.

“We were cut out of the play before, but now we are part of the play,” said Schmidt. “We are participating in the play…(which is) easier energy wise instead of just defending all the time.”

Not surprisingly, Schmidt is loving football as she has always done, that result in 2007 aside. You can’t help but believe that the outcome in 2011 will be better for Schmidt and her Canadian company this summer in Germany.

University of Portland

Sophie Schmidt is one of two graduates from the University of Portland on Canada’s women’s national team. The other is Canadian captain Christine Sinclair, who before Schmidt created a remarkable legacy in leading Portland to two NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championships.

Schmidt joined the program in 2007, two years after Sinclair won her second consecutive M.A.C. Hermann Trophy as the best college player in the United States. Said Schmidt of Sinclair, her “legacy is untouchable.”

Schmidt played four years for the Pilots, finishing her career (and studies) in 2010. From 2007 to 2010, she scored 40 goals. She also helped the team reach the national quarter-final stage in three of her four school seasons.

At school, Schmidt studied life science and German studies. She is actually fluent in German, a trait that will come in handy this summer when the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be played in Germany. is the new home for official Canada Soccer apparel and fanwear, including customized National Team jerseys