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Canada's Josée Bélanger, 4th left, celebrates her goal against Switzerland with her teammates during the second half of the FIFA Women's World Cup soccer action in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday, June 21, 2015.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

It was an imperfect victory but the team's coach, John Herdman, had said all along that Canada's success at the Women's World Cup was going to come from will, passion, and luck.

On Sunday in Vancouver, on the first day of summer, it was a fraction of everything that coalesced to produce a 1-0 victory for Canada against Switzerland. In front of a boisterous crowd of nearly 54,000, the win propelled Canada through the Round of 16 and into the quarter-finals next Saturday, again in Vancouver, to face either England or Norway.

It was a game Canada had to win, if all the talk before the tournament, starting with chief evangelist Herdman, was to mean anything. Canada was ranked No. 8 and to lose the Round of 16 to a Swiss team ranked No. 19, in front of a partisan crowd, would have been a failure at best and an embarrassment at worst.

Instead, Canada skirted the worst, persevering through trouble, and pounded in a goal early in the second half to roll to the finish.

"We're going to grind results out," said Herdman after the victory. The winning goal was scored by Josée Bélanger, a 29-year-old Quebecker, a striker who had played defence earlier in the tournament, a player who had been, several years ago, ready to retire until Herdman coaxed her back on the team. "Your country needs you," Herdman had urged Belanger in 2013.

Canada was never going to plow through the Women's World Cup with a team whose top players are either older than 30 or still teenagers. Against Switzerland, led by strikers with dangerous potential, Canada's game plan early was obvious: attack.

But once Switzerland absorbed 10 minutes of pounding from Canada, the Swiss – in their first Women's World Cup – pushed back. The Swiss produced the first, and only, great chance of the first half, a should-have-been goal striker Lara Dickenmann couldn't finish.

Canada has suffered from an anemic offence this month and the Swiss stymied Canada throughout the first half. The one time Canada really threatened in the first 45 minutes was a long, arching shot from Bélanger, from way, way outside by the sideline, launching a hopeful ball toward the Swiss net. It nearly landed, banging off and out from the far post – but considering Canada didn't register a single shot on net in the first half (posts don't count), it was yet another desultory offensive showing.

Entering the locker room at halftime tied 0-0, and closer to being down 1-0 than up 1-0, with the tournament on the line, is precisely the type of adversity Herdman has long trained his team for. Canada may not be the best team, he often has said, but it would be the most ready team.

At halftime, Herdman spoke to his team of time as fleeting, moments that are one's hands and then, suddenly, are gone. He has an ability to rouse people. Away from soccer, he's become a popular public speaker, speeches marked by a motivational zeal. He told his players about playing a second half with a force that when it was over, there would be no regrets.

It showed. Canada came with fire, a result came quickly. At the culmination of an attacking flurry, veteran Rhian Wilkinson sent a cross into the box and Christine Sinclair, fighting off a defender, managed to tap it to Belanger, who banged the ball home in the 52nd minute. After the game, Sinclair laughed and said, "Just worked out like we planned." Belanger said she had felt a calm in the moment and didn't have a clear memory of the play. "I don't remember how it happened. It just happened."

Canada pressed on, with several chances to make it 2-0. When the Swiss had a shot to even the score from in close, in the 78th minute, goalkeeper Erin McLeod made a stellar game-saving stop. McLeod was named the player of the match. McLeod didn't have a lot of work during the game but delivered each time it counted. She also credited her defence.

Among those defenders is Kadeisha Buchanan, a 19-year-old from Toronto who has emerged as a young star, one of the top players at the World Cup. However, she played Sunday injured, strained abdominal muscles. She hadn't practised for several days before and said she appreciates there is nearly a week before the next game. It was iffy whether she would start Sunday. Her stellar play didn't reflect her pain. "It hurt pretty bad," Buchanan said. "The team needed me."

Buchanan was one several Canadians hampered by injury. Sophie Schmidt is another. "These girls are warriors," said Herdman. "They know they're not getting this time back again."

Sunday was only the second time in women's World Cup history that Canada won a game in the knock-out stage -- it reached the semifinals in 2003 before finishing fourth -- and was the first time, in 11 matches, that Canada beat an opponent from Europe in the World Cup.

With Canada heading to the quarter-finals, it may be the first time in the tournament it faces a top-10 team. Each of its four previous opponents has been ranked between 12th and 19th in the world. Norway, No. 11, plays England, No. 6, in Ottawa on Monday night. It has been the luck of the draw for Canada. Four of the top five teams in the world are on the other side of the playoff draw from Canada. Only Japan is a true titan in the way of Canada and the championship game at BC Place on July 5, if Canada can continue to scrape its way through this tournament.

It is exactly what Herdman suggested on Thursday, three days before the Switzerland game. If Canada could win Sunday, the road to an unlikely push to the semi-finals, and even the finals, becomes clear. "We've got a chance," said Herdman, "of going all the way through."