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30 November 2019 | in University World Cup Football

Early goal lifts University of Ottawa to University World Cup title

JINJIANG, Peoples Republic of China – Every championship game needs a defining moment. The most anticipated women’s match-up at the KELME 2019 University World Cup - Football did not disappoint.


The University of Ottawa’s Mikayla Morton provided the marquee in the second minute. Rising up on a Katherine Bearne-kicked corner, Morton drilled a header into the right corner beyond the Paulista University Fernanda Laís Delazere’s outstretched hands.


“My teammates have been serving up sweet corners throughout the tournament,” Morton said. “I’ve had many opportunities to get a head-in goal. Today, I was able to achieve it.”


The goal was the lone blemish on Brazilian goalkeeper Fernanda Laís Delazere’s tournament record. For the Canadians, this proved to be just enough as they held the 1-0 lead to the final whistle. With the win, the tournament wildcard entry will bring the first global title for university football teams back to campus for Monday's classes.


Not equalising the score wasn’t for an absence of effort from Paulista University. Or from lacking a potent offensive attack, either. Paulista came into the women’s final with three of the tournament’s top-four goal scorers.


Having to play the role of comeback kids, the Brazilians’ had scoring opportunities. After conceding the early goal, Paulista University captain Giovanna Rocha using one word to describe the team’s mindset.


“Determinação,” Rocha said.


According to Paulista University team leader Flavio De Oliveira, this determination came at a cost: they pressed too much.


“Maybe we needed to play with a bit more calmness,” Oliveira said. “I’m proud of how we played. The whole game, we played very well. But to finish our attacks, we needed a bit more composure and calmness.”


The University of Ottawa also had the ultimate foil: player of the tournament awardee Trinity Esprit. The first-year sociology student helping to slow down, but not entirely stop, the Paulista University student-athletes’ offensive. 


Several occasions ended with well-struck shots from the São Paulo’s student-athletes ricocheted off the cross and sidebars where millimeters might have made the difference. But football is not horseshoes or hand grenades. Close doesn’t count when it comes to scoring goals.


University of Ottawa coach Steve Johnson credited the team’s character for taking home the title.


“I knew from the quality of the teams here that we would be put into uncomfortable situations,” Johnson said. “It’s how we would respond that would determine how far we would go. That held true today. We showed a total team resiliency and demonstrated our adaptability today. We never game up.”


“Paulista University challenged the quality of our players to the max,” Johnson added. “It was difficult to hold them off. But because it was difficult just makes our victory that much sweeter.”