Women's finalists of University World Cup - Football confirmed
Every story needs a setting and the penalty kick hashmark played the part to near perfection as Beijing Normal University took on the University of Ottawa in the semifinals of the KELME 2019 FISU University World Cup - Football women’s tournament.
Playing to a nil-nil draw through ninety minutes, the game moved to the penalty kick shootout as the University of Ottawa prevailed, 5-4, to take their place in Saturday’s final against Paulista University.
Facing Beijing winger Xinyue Zhang, Ottawa goalkeeper Margot Shore picked up a visual clue while facing down Beijing winger Xinyue Zhan. Shore then took a mid-hip leap of faith to the left.
The Beijing penalty shots were very focused, very well-rehearsed and very well executed,” Shore said after the game. “On the save, I just saw something with how she stepped up, how her hips were, how her body was. I decided to go 100 percent in this direction. As soon as she stepped into the shot, I knew I was going to get good contact on the ball.”
Shore got all of the ball for a two-handed block. 2-1 advantage, Ottawa.
With both Beijing Normal and Ottawa next three shots going in, late-game substitute Angelina Gendreau stepped up for the potential game-winner. The human kinetics major didn’t miss, cleanly hitting her corner mark.
Shore’s teammates and coaches rushed the field in celebration.
“It’s an incredible feeling, I don’t even know how to describe my emotions,” Gendreau said after the joyous melee. “Margot made a wonderful save in the PKs. That boosted our confidence just to go other there and take our shots.”
Despite losing the coin-flip, both Gendreau and Shore said that Beijing Normal deferring to defend first put the penalty kick shot sequencing in their favour.
“I’d rather step up to make a save first,” Shore said. “I think it takes a little more of the pressure off of the shooters; they don’t have to worry about being the first to make a miss or to get saved.”
Affectionately known as the “Gee-Gees” for the University of Ottawa’s garnet and grey school colours, players and coaches alike acknowledged the impressive offensive play during the first half from Beijing Normal University.
“The first 45 minutes, Beijing Normal put on a fantastic display. They were winning the ball in the midfield, playing through the wings and creating chances by crossing the ball,” University of Ottawa head coach Steven Johnson said at the post-game presser. “They created a lot of problems for us.”
The Chinese side’s multiple goal scoring opportunities started in the eight-minute when striker Yueyu Li collected a teammate’s chip shot and fired a shot on goal that ricocheted off the Ottawa goalkeeper’s hands. One minute later, Li fed winger Zhao with a through ball that skirted behind Ottawa’s defense. While Shore corralled the ball, Ottawa’s goal-giving narrow escapes continued for the next half hour of play. This included a beautiful one-touch volley from Ting Xie that caromed off the crossbar in the thirtieth minute and another shot just before the halftime whistle that a leaping Shore punched over the top of the goal.
On the other side of the pitch, towering play from the Beijing Normal’s back four snuffed out Ottawa’s attempts to cross the ball into goal-scoring position from the wings while Furong Wang’s goalkeeping adventures away from the net stamped out Ottawa’s through ball attempts to their three striker attack.
As the game wore on, the North American squad clawed back momentum. It wasn’t for a lack of football atmosphere of fans cheering on the last remaining Chinese men’s or women’s team left in the tournament. Packing the lower bowl of the stadium, they sang school fight songs throughout the contest.
“In the second half, we kind of ran out of our energy,” Beijing Normal University head coach Changquan Wang said. “But overall we’re really satisfied with our team’s performance tonight. Our team’s spirit, effort and intensity were extraordinary.”
Earlier in the evening, as chilly winds caused the mercury to drop at the Quanzhou College of Technology Stadium, the first women’s semifinal of the evening had quite the opposite effect on the field.
Unlike the men’s draw, where the top eight played quarterfinals, in the women’s tournament the top two teams from both groups qualified directly for the semifinals. Group A toppers Paulista University of Brazil took on the second placed team in Group B, College of Asian Scholars, Thailand.
Both teams had been impressive coming into the semifinals, and the clash did not disappoint. Amidst constant chatter from both dugouts and also among the players, there was some fast, frenetic play on display.
Despite the sizzling action, the tight, tense encounter went goalless into halftime and it seemed the match would continue that way. However, there was a dramatic turnaround in the second half as the Brazilians really came into their own.
Just two minutes into the second half, when the Thai women had not quite regrouped yet, Paulista’s No.7 Gabrielle Da Costa fired in a goal that would alter the course of the match.
“I am very happy because it is my birthday today,” said Da Costa after the game. “So, it was the best birthday present. For us, it seems it’s better to score our goals in the second half!”
And score they did. After that first goal, it was all Paulista from then on. No.17 Kimberlyn Damares Brandino ran around like a rocket in the midfield, creating a lot of opportunities for them and in the 57th minute, No.3 Ariane Correia made it 2-0 for Paulista.
Already looking secure of a win, there was dramatic action in the very last minute of regulation time. No.8 Bruna Calderan pulled a neat double trick as she first headed the ball into position for herself to then kick straight into the back of the net. With that, just minutes short of the final whistle, it was 3-0 for Paulista University and they had cemented their place in Saturday’s final against University of Ottawa.
Results: 28 November
As a service to our readers, Around the Rings will provide verbatim texts of selected press releases issued by Olympic-related organizations, federations, businesses and sponsors.
These press releases appear as sent to Around the Rings and are not edited for spelling, grammar or punctuation.
25 Years at #1: Your best source of news about the Olympics is www.aroundtherings.com, for subscribers only