JINJIANG, People’s Republic of China – Emma Lefebvre’s growing popularity at the University World Cup – Football brought three men’s teams out to the Jinjiang Sports Centre stadium, to watch the game between University of Ottawa and Siberian Federal University of Russia.
Emma Lefebvre, University of OttawaLefebvre’s two goals scored in the Canadians’ opening game against Donghua University two days ago, coupled with her strong social media presence is turning her into a bit of a star here at this inaugural event in China, where the best university teams from around the world compete against each other.
Cheered on by the teams from the International University of Languages and Media, Italy, the Julius-Maximilians University of Würzburg, Germany and the University of Málaga, Spain, the women from Ottawa sealed a clinical 3-0 victory over the Siberians.
Pressure was on the Siberian goalkeeper from the start, as the Canadians came out all guns blazing. They took the lead in the 6th minute itself, when a strong attack on goal followed a free kick and ended with no.9 Hailey Christina Walsh firing the ball into the net, past a stunned Ekaterina Tkacheva.
Neither side let up on intensity throughout the first half, with many attacks on goal and a few good saves. The Canadians were clearly faster on the field, and thus created a lot more chances and opportunities. Tkacheva continued to be under pressure and pulled off a nice save in the 33rd minute. In the last minute of the first half though, Mikayla Morton converted a free kick from Thea Abdul Nour, and the score was 2-0 going into half time.
Much to the disappointment of the enthusiastic crowd, Emma Lefebvre was substituted with Angelina Gendreau in the second half, but it turned out to be a winning move for the Canadians. Gendreau came in on fresh legs, further boosted the morale of the team and scored a goal in the 79th minute, all but sealing the fate of the Siberians.
“When I got that goal, I felt very good,” Gendreau said after the win. “My teammates were backing me up, and I was very thankful for that. I feel very satisfied with today’s performance. Our teamwork is going very well. The Russian team came out very hard and it was a difficult game.”
About the possibly unexpected support from the men’s teams she said, “We knew that three men’s teams came here to watch and support. That’s amazing because it’s fun to have teams from other countries paying attention to our competition.”
A good competition it was, despite the lopsided score line. For the last fifteen minutes of the match, there were many spirited challenges from the Russians, but no attempt was converted to a goal. As the final whistle blew, the Canadians marched to the top of women’s Group B, assuring themselves of a spot in the semifinals.
There is still one more round of group matches to played on 26 November, but the semi-final line ups are almost set as three teams are well clear of the others. In the same group as University of Ottawa, the Asian champions – College of Asian Scholars from Thailand – also got a second win under their belt with a 2-1 win over Donghua University of China. In Group A, Paulista University of Brazil are at the top of the table, with a 17-0 win over a hapless University of Lausanne. The last semi-final spot will be a toss-up between University of Sydney and Beijing Normal University, depending on their result on Tuesday.
The men’s quarterfinal line up will become clear on Monday, 25 November, the last day of group stage play in the men’s field.