VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Canadian women’s soccer team won its first-ever Olympic title on Friday, and the game-winning goal marks an especially emotional moment for some Vancouverites.
“I knew we were going to win gold,” Carlos Grosso said Friday morning, just moments after his daughter Julia sealed the win for Canada. “My house just exploded.”
Canada defeated Sweden 3-2 on penalty kicks after the teams finished extra time tied at one, and Grosso took the winning penalty shot.
Carli Grosso says watching her younger sister take the final shot was incredibly stressful.
“It happened so fast. When she scored, our home family went crazy. I think it’s a really big moment for her and her career. We are so proud of her,” Carli, who also played professional soccer, recalled.
Julia was inspired to join soccer and play like her big sister, who says this moment is pivotal for the game.
“I’ve got a lot of messages even just from my team at SFU and younger players who are congratulating Julia. They obviously look up to her,” Carli said.
Carlos is the vice president of BC Soccer, and he says they hope this moment encourages girls to stay in the game.
“Watching player’s like Julia, Jordan in this community [who are] young, inspiring players, they are great role models. Right behind Christine Sinclair and Sophie Schmidt, she’s from here too.” he said, adding Sinclair was always a role model for his daughter.
“When Julia went out to Team Canada when Julia was 17 years old, Christine was fantastic,” Carlos said.
“She always said that Christine treats my sister like a little sister,” Carli said.
The Canadian soccer legend was heard shouting “Julia Grosso” at the end of the game.
A fairy-tale moment for former coach
The moment will forever be one of Julia’s former coach, Brendan Quarry, remembers.
“It’s quite a feeling to see a kid that you knew at that age have an experience like she had today — it was a real, sort of fairy-tale moment for her, finishing that last penalty kick for sure,” said Quarry, a co-owner of Total Soccer.
He says Grosso played in the Total Soccer program when she was about nine to 13 years old, and was regularly part of the academy teams that would travel to the U.S. and play in tournaments.
The former coach says Grosso and her teammates were always powerhouses at these tournaments, despite being much smaller than their opponents.
He recalls parents from the opposing team being literally silenced by the young players’ skills.
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“After about five minutes all of the parents from the opposition sort of go quiet as these small kid would just knock the ball through the opposition time and time again, it was so difficult to get the ball off of them,” Quarry recounted.
“It’s always a rewarding feeling when this team of young players literally silences the opposition’s support group on the other side of the pitch. It’s almost like they don’t know what they’re looking at because they had never seen kids at that age do the things on the ball that they’re doing.”
Fast-forward to present day, and Quarry admits he was pretty nervous watching the final moments of the Olympic match, telling NEWS 1130 several thoughts raced through his mind.
“You sort of think, ‘Oh wow, this is a great set up for a fair-ytale moment.’ But, of course, you always sort of think of the worst-case scenario as well, so it was pretty unnerving,” he explained.
“I get to the point sometimes where it’s almost difficult to watch.”
"It's quite unnerving. It gets to the point sometimes where it's almost difficult to watch, but when it goes in, it's a great feeling. And it becomes really emotional when you see the reaction of all the players." — Julia Grosso's former coach Brendan Quarry on @NEWS1130
— Martin MacMahon (@martinmacmahon) August 6, 2021
Julia was just four years old when she started to play for Vancouver’s Italian Canadian SF.
In her time playing at Total Soccer, Quarry says the now-20-year-old always stood out.
“It was her and she had some other teammates as well. There was a very, very good group that was coached by her father out of Burnaby, and there’s actually a few other girls in that group as well who ended up being on the U17, U20 national team,” he recalled.
“Julia definitely was a standout, as was a handful of them at that age.”
The win is big, especially for the women’s program in Canada. Quarry notes the women’s team has already been inspiring young players, and that this victory will only further that.
He hopes Canada will continue to invest in the women’s game.
The win is also historic in another sense — one member of Canada’s team is the first openly transgender and non-binary athlete to win an Olympic medal.
Twenty-five-year-old Quinn publicly came out in a social media post last fall.
With files from Martin MacMahon