By Vijay Setlur
VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It was a small consolation, and hopefully a building block for the future.
After being outscored 19-0 in two previous games - including 13-0 by the United States on Sunday, Guatemala finished CONCACAF Olympic women's qualifying with a 6-0 win over the Dominican Republic on Tuesday.
"Unfortunately, the results just didn't go our way, but we knew we had to come here and show growth," coach Raul Calderon said. "Today we looked happy, we looked content out there and we showed the growth and our ability."
With only pride at stake, Wendy Pineda led Guatemala with three goals, the first barely more than a minute into the match.
"The losses were painful," Pineda said. "Obviously it's going to hurt, for any team to let up so many goals. But we knew we had another opportunity for the work that we have been doing and to be able to finish strong and show the type of team we have.
"Maybe the league isn't professional in Guatemala, but we're improving and (we'll) keep going."
Calderon lamented what he considers structural barriers to improving the women's game, and therefore enabling Guatemala to reach the second tier of CONCACAF teams like Costa Rica and Mexico.
"There's the childhood theme of infrastructure," Calderon said. "Obviously women's soccer is not a priority for the federation of Guatemala. There is not the support we'd love or like to have. There's not a professional league. These girls are playing because they love the sport and we have to thank them for that."
The other Calderon said the other issue the women's game faces is cultural, which will be more difficult to overcome.
"In Guatemala, the soccer that's most popular is men's," he said. "Culturally, they say there are women playing soccer, not female soccer players.
"We are advancing, but very slow steps and we hope one day to get to the level of Mexico and the U.S., but it's going to take work."
His next step is preparing Guatemala for the CONCACAF U-20 Women's Championship in Panama in March.
"We have to keep on working and have to go back and use this group, seven of them and start focusing on the U20 qualifying in Panama," he said.
In the meantime, Pineda will return home to Guatemala City on Wednesday with at least one fond memory.
"First, the effort Guatemala put forth, despite the results, the heart that we put in every game," she said. "We leave with our heads up high because we can't ignore that we played two top teams and that we're going to keep on working."
"For us to be in the game, we needed a good beginning and we didn't have it," Mexico coach Leo Cuellar said. "We gave away two early goals and the team was not capable to get settled and to put work the things that we planned for this match.
"We needed to play a perfect game as we did in Cancun to deserve the victory."
"I was happy with all four goals and Carli Lloyd, the way she was the end product of the set pieces. So we did well with set pieces," U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. "After (the U.S. went ahead), we could not find the rhythm in the attack.
"It was a little bit tough for us to change the point of attack and get it going. At halftime I think we stretched out the team a little bit and we got better and better. Of course, that 3-0 goal got us a little bit confidence."