With the score knotted at three 122 minutes into the second women’s soccer semifinal, it looked like Team USA and Canada were headed for the first penalty kick shootout in women’s Olympic history.
It was then that Alex Morgan secured her place in soccer lore.
With less than a minute remaining in the final overtime, the former Cal standout took a cross from Heather O’Reilly and headed it into the back of the net just over the head of Canada goalkeeper Erin McLeod, sealing the squad’s 4-3 win and its fifth consecutive spot in the Olympic gold medal match.
Team USA has won all but one gold medal since women’s soccer was introduced as an Olympic sport in 1996, taking the silver in 2000. But the final will be a rematch of last year’s World Cup final against Japan, which they lost in penalty kicks.
Morgan and the Americans will take on Japan on Thursday at 11:45 a.m. Pacific.
With the win, Morgan is assured of a medal, which means Cal Olympians will have at least 14, more than any other year except 2008 and 2004. The Bears have at least five other legitimate chances to medal, with four water polo players and runner Alysia Montano left to compete in their respective events.
The Bears won a school-record 17 medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.