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Canada advances to world women’s curling semi-final after beating U.S.

Canada's skip Rachel Homan (C) watches a stone during their World Women's Curling Championship play-off match against the United States, in Riga March 23, 2013.


Canada's Rachel Homan defeated Erika Brown of the United States 7-6 in the 3-4 Page playoff Saturday to advance to the semi-final at the world women's curling championship.

Homan will play Scotland's Eve Muirhead in the evening with a berth in Sunday's gold medal game on the line.

Sweden's Margaretha Sigfridsson will play for gold after defeating Muirhead in Friday's 1-2 Page playoff. The semi-final loser will play Brown for bronze.

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The Canadians were in top form for the Saturday afternoon matchup at the Volvo Sports Center. They looked relaxed and confident in their first career world women's playoff game and really seemed to be enjoying themselves.

"We weren't doing that at the beginning of the week and we realized we needed to get back to that," Homan said. "We got back to it and we've been on a bit of a roll and we've just got to keep going for tonight."

The Canadian rink has won five games in a row. Homan dropped a 6-4 decision to Muirhead — a four-time world junior champion — in the round-robin opener last Saturday.

Homan opened the scoring against Brown with an impressive in-off for a deuce before the United States cut the lead in half with a takeout in the second end.

Homan scored two more in the third. The Ottawa skip took out a U.S. rock and it nudged another American stone just enough to give Canada a second point.

The United States followed with back-to-back singles, cutting Canada's lead to 4-3 at the halftime break. Homan tried a tapback in the fifth but just missed to give the Americans a steal of one.

Canada scored a deuce in the sixth end before the teams traded singles leading into the 10th, with Canada up 7-5. Homan had last rock and took out one of the American stones, leaving another for the one-point win.

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A group of flag-waving, cowbell-ringing Canadian fans took in the action from the front row of the 1,000-seat venue. A couple hundred fans were in attendance, including a quieter crew of American supporters on the two-row top deck.

There are some unique touches at the host venue, about a 15-minute drive from the main drag of the Latvian capital.

The event MC did his best Bruce Buffer imitation by stretching out the surname of each curler during the pre-game player introductions. Once play started, the quiet vibe was interrupted during end breaks by blasts of thumping 80s-inspired mashup dance music selections.

Homan is hoping to win Canada's first world women's title since Jennifer Jones was victorious in 2008. The 23-year-old skip beat Jones last month in Kingston, Ont., to qualify for the world championship.

Alberta's Heather Nedohin skipped Canada to a bronze medal at the 2012 event in Lethbridge. Switzerland's Mirjam Ott beat Sigfridsson in last year's championship game.

Canada leads all countries with 29 podium appearances in the tournament's 34-year history. Canada also leads with 15 gold medals, well ahead of second-place Sweden's eight.

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