- Andersen Williams scored the vital goal that sent Canada to Uruguay 2018
- She reflects on that joyous moment
- "There were a lot of tears!"
There aren’t many teenagers in the world who can say they scored the goal that sent their country to a World Cup finals.
But Andersen Williams is one of them. Her strike in the 89th minute in the match for third place at the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship against Haiti meant Canada were headed to their sixth consecutive FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
“It started off with winning a corner kick late, late, late in the game,” Williams recounted, in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. “We had a beautiful delivery from our full-back Julianne Vallerand and it went back post to Jordyn Huitema, who headed it perfectly right to the middle of the goal and I just had to tap it in real quick.”
Those are modest words from Williams as she had to do a bit more work than what a mere tap-in suggests.
"When the ball was coming to me, the first thing on my mind was ‘get your head or foot on it’ and that’s all I could think," the 16-year-old said. "It just went in and it was amazing, and then all the girls ran to me and celebrated and the last couple minutes of the game felt like an eternity. Thank goodness we pulled it out and we did it!
"Afterwards, there were a few tears, happy tears – actually, there were a lot of tears (laughs)! I can’t even describe it. It felt amazing. Our culture and chemistry was outstanding."
And how many times has she watched the goal back since? "A few times (laughs)! And my family’s watched it a few times, too. It’s kind of like reliving the moment when you watch it."
Williams grew up on the pool deck with her mother and she hails from a sports-loving family. Her mum, Trina, plays and coaches water polo, while her father Andrew and uncle Nigel both played American football competitively. She started playing football at the age of eight in Calgary, and six years later, she made her debut in the Canadian national team youth programme.
So how is she experiencing these months building up to her first World Cup? "It’s pretty surreal. It’s just insane. I’m very fortunate in that I get to train with international girls every day with the Whitecaps in a very competitive and intense training environment. All the girls in the team are in similar situations. We’re all getting ready for this amazing opportunity. We’re all pushing ourselves every single day, not taking any day for granted."
Canada are in Group D with Korea Republic, Spain and Colombia. Their opening match at Uruguay 2018 will be against the Colombians at the Estadio Charrua in Montevideo.
“We’re definitely going to continue with our Canadian identity," Williams said. "We’ll stick to our game plan, play possession-based soccer and continue how we were playing before. All the girls are getting ready, I’ve been talking with them on social media. We’re all stoked. We’re so excited.
“We play a possession style, but we attack. We love to attack. I think Canadians are extremely gritty. You have to have that finesse, but we bring out our teeth when we want to attack. The same goes for defending, and we're just a tight-knit group and we make sure everyone’s on the same page when we’re attacking and defending. That’s the Canadian identity right there.”
Canada will be hoping Williams brings her winning touch on their Uruguayan adventure.