British Columbia

'We're so ecstatic': Family of B.C. soccer star Julia Grosso reacts to her gold medal-winning penalty kick

After back-to-back bronze medals at the last two Games, Canada defeated Sweden 3-2 on penalty kicks in a thrilling finish to win the gold medal in Tokyo — and Vancouver's Julia Grosso scored the winning kick.

Canada defeated Sweden 3-2 on penalties in a thrilling finish to take the Olympic title in Tokyo

Vancouver's Julia Grosso is swarmed by teammates after scoring the decisive penalty kick in the shootout at the end of the Olympic soccer final in Tokyo. (Fernando Vergara/The Associated Press)

Screams of elation erupted in households across the country as the Canadian women's soccer team secured a gold medal against Sweden on Friday morning — and in one B.C. home, those shouts of joy were followed by a quick video call from the very stadium where history was made.

"Dad, I got to go ... I got a gold-medal presentation," was how Vancouver's Julia Grosso, 20, ended the call after checking in with her dad Carlos Grosso from Tokyo.

After back-to-back bronze medals at the last two Olympic Games, Canada defeated Sweden 3-2 on penalty kicks in a thrilling finish to win soccer gold for the first time.

After Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé denied Jonna Andersson's attempt, Grosso scored the winner to end it.

"We're so ecstatic," proud papa Carlos told CBC's The Early Edition just minutes after the victory. 

He said watching the game was undeniably nerve-wracking, but his daughter had always kept a positive outlook about how these Games would go down.

"Nothing less than gold," is how he described his daughter's mental game plan.

And that's exactly what Grosso and her teammates achieved.

Canadian soccer players jump off the podium after their win against Sweden in the women's soccer gold medal game at the Tokyo Olympics in Yokohama, Japan on Friday, August 6, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

After falling behind 1-0 and being outplayed for much of the first half, the Canadians mounted a comeback.

Coming out of half time, the red and white looked much more composed and confident, taking the play to the Swedes.

The teams ended regulation time 1-1 after Jessie Fleming's equalizing penalty, and remained tied after two periods of extra time. At the end of a nerve-shredding penalty shootout, Grosso's decisive kick took the team to the top of the podium.

Carli Grosso, Julia's sister, said she was nervous watching the game, but once she saw her sister's intense focus on the screen, she knew Canada had it. 

"I don't even know how to describe how I was feeling. I was a little bit nervous but at the same time, I knew this was a moment that they were ready for," Carli said.

WATCH | Canadian women capture soccer gold:

Carlos said soon after the win, his mother called him weeping with joy.

"You could hear her on the phone, but she's just crying. She couldn't even speak," he said.

Carlos said Julia Grosso, one of the youngest members of the gold-medal team, had longed to play for Canada ever since attending the 2015 World Cup.

He said her favourite player is superstar Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, even picking number 7 for her jersey in his honour. But another superstar — Christine Sinclair — is equally revered.

"I literally was the ball girl for one of her games," said Julia Grosso via video chat. "It's like she's done everything and it's so nice to get the gold medal for her, honestly."

The gold, silver and bronze were won by Canada, Sweden and the United States, respectively.

Gayle Statton, president of B.C. Soccer, is thrilled with those standings.

"Beating the Americans — nothing better than that," she said, also speaking on CBC's Early Edition shortly after the match.

Grosso is set to return to the University of Texas for her final year of studies but has her eyes set on turning pro. (submitted by Canada Soccer)

Statton hopes the thrilling win will inspire more British Columbians to get into the game.

"We just want people out there. We want grassroots soccer. We want competitive soccer. We want every level," she said, adding its helpful to have young people believe now that they, too, can be Olympians.

And what is next for Carlos Grosso's once little girl, now grown into a gold-medal winning member of the women's national team?

Maybe a break and a big party if she can make it back to B.C. between Tokyo and training. The midfielder will soon be entering her final year at the University of Texas.

And after that?

"Then she'll turn pro," says her proud dad.

With files from Susana da Silva, Devin Heroux and The Early Edition


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