GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN – Playing their seventh match in five days, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite made a statement by capturing the 2013 Gothia World Youth Cup in the girls U-19 division with a 2-0 win over Hovås-Billdal IF/Billdals BK on Friday.
The opportunity to play at this year's Gothia Cup was made possible by the late Wendy McDonald, one of the original founding owners of Whitecaps FC in 1974. In June 2012, tournament organizers SKF donated one 2013 Gothia Cup tournament entry for one Canadian team to Wendy in celebration of her 90th birthday. Before her passing in December 2012, Wendy generously allocated this entry to Whitecaps FC’s Girls Elite team.
'Caps girls celebrate their Gothia Cup triumph
"As a team, we're very appreciative to have been given this opportunity from Wendy McDonald and SKF," said Whitecaps FC Girls Elite head coach Jesse Symons. "The players left everything on the field. They really wanted to perform consistently for one another. It was a tough week of matches, but full credit to the girls for the professionalism they showed."
With the title in sight in Friday's final, the ‘Caps came out motivated and got off to a fantastic start when striker Summer Clarke – sister of Whitecaps FC MLS striker Caleb Clarke – opened the scoring in the seventh minute. The play was produced through an excellent passing sequence from the Canadian side before Clarke received the ball in the box, rounded the ‘keeper, and finished from a tight angle. The goal was Clarke’s eighth of the tournament in only seven matches.
The Swedish side had a chance to equalize on 15 minutes when a free kick was struck off the crossbar. The rebound was then deflected towards the far upper corner, but ‘Caps goalkeeper Julia McDonald did brilliantly to spring to her left to make a crucial stop.
The insurance goal for Vancouver came on 24 minutes when Chelsea Harkins was taken down in the box. Sam Dion stepped up and buried the ensuing penalty kick to give the ‘Caps a 2-0 lead.
In the end, head coach Jesse Symons' squad hung on through the second half to capture their first Gothia World Youth Cup title.
The ‘Caps won every match they played at this year’s tournament. The Blue and White got to the final after sweeping through Group 2 with a 5-0 win over Swedish club Sköllersta IF, a 4-1 win over Spanish club Gasteizko Neskak, a 2-0 win against Swedish club QBIK, and a 2-1 win against Norwegian side SK Hardhaus. Vancouver then won their quarterfinal against defending Gothia Cup champions AIK FF of Sweden by a score of 4-0 before beating Swedish club Eskilsminne DIF to reach Thursday’s final.
Since its inception in 1975, the Gothia Cup has become the world’s largest youth football tournament. Every year the competition hosts approximately 1,600 teams from 80 nations across the world. This year the tournament hosted over 4,000 matches played on over 100 fields. Whitecaps FC were the only delegate representing Canada in the girls U-19 division; there were four other Canadian clubs competing in various other divisions this year. Canada have been represented in the Gothia Cup 34 times in the tournament's 38 years existence.
Whitecaps FC starting lineup
Julia McDonald; Sam Donald, Aman Shergill, Kathryn Baker, Rachel Jones; Jasmine Mander, Sam Dion, Simmrin Dhaliwal, Reetu Johal; Summer Clarke, Jasmin Dhanda