How does it feel to watch your goalie partner play for Olympic gold? Surprisingly calm, then uplifting
Watery-eyed fans across the country nervously watched the Canadian women’s soccer team take the pitch against Sweden in a hotly contested Olympic gold medal game early Friday morning, but Georgia Simmerling was remarkably calm.
“To be honest, I’m pretty cold about it,” said Simmerling, whose partner Stéphanie Labbé is Canada’s starting goalie.
“I know her so well, so if she gets hit or knocked over I just send good vibes to her. I know she will get up.”
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Simmerling, an Olympian herself who just returned from a track cycling competition at the Tokyo Games, has a habit of arming herself and stabilizing her emotions before a big competition.
“I guess I know how to control my nerves,” she said.
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“I obviously appreciate him. I love it. I’m his biggest fan. But yeah, I stay pretty calm.”
Surrounded by fans gathered early Friday at a Calgary bar – eager to see the Canadian soccer team try their luck for a first Olympic gold, having won bronze in their last two attempts – Simmerling said that she trusted Labbé.
“Steph turns into a little dumb when it comes to stepping onto this pitch,” she said.
It turned out to be premonitory.
After allowing a goal in the first half, the Canadian team came from behind to equalize, then suffered many seemingly dangerous Swedish attacks in overtime, but ultimately came out victorious in a shootout. on goal in six rounds.
Both teams showed remarkable goaltending in the shootout, but Labbé was much better than his Swedish counterpart, preventing four of Sweden’s six attempts.
In the decisive sixth round, Labbé repelled Jonna Andersson’s attempt, then Julia Grosso handed the dagger for Canada to a few inches.
The Swedish keeper correctly guessed where Grosso was going to shoot and got a hold of the ball – searching for a split second as if she had saved him – but he deflected from his glove and reached the top of the net.
There might not have been a crowd at the stadium in Japan, but fans at the Calgary bar erupted in cheers, hugs and greetings.
As the pandemonium subsided, Simmerling caught his breath and considered the magnitude of what Labbé and his teammates had just accomplished.
“These girls are supposed to do this,” she said.
“They know what to do and they got it done. It was amazing. It was so amazing to watch.”