(Editor's note: University of Montana media release)
MISSOULA — Camellia Xu, the Montana soccer team’s record-setting goalkeeper, has been invited to attend the Canadian U-20 Women’s Camp, which will be held Jan. 9-14 in Markham, Ontario, Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team Program announced on Friday.
Xu is one of just 25 players to be invited to the camp, 24 of whom play collegiately in the U.S. She will be one of three goalkeepers at the camp, along with Harvard’s Anna Karpenko and Ann Stephanie Fortin, who plays at Rice.
That pool of players will be used to fill most of the roster spots on the Canadian team that will compete at the Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship, to be held Feb. 25 through March 12 in the Dominican Republic.
“The biggest honor is to represent your country. I think it’s every little girl’s dream to represent their country and wear their flag,” said Xu, who will be making her first appearance at a national camp. I want to go in and prove that I probably should have been there earlier and deserve to be there now and deserve to be on the roster in February. I’m really excited to have this opportunity.”
If Xu is selected to the team that competes in the Dominican Republic, she’ll have to manage part of her spring semester remotely while missing a chunk of Montana’s offseason training program.
And Griz coach Chris Citowicki is more than fine with that.
“If I’m going to say that we want players here who want to represent their national team, that means I’m going to miss them for periods of time,” he said. “That’s part of it and you have to accept it. I’m more than happy to have her go away and do this, because that’s what I want. One of the goals of the program is to have players representing their country and playing at that level. It’s a big deal.”
The Canadian U-20 team is one step below the national team, which won the gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Japan in August.
If Xu is selected for the team that plays in the Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship, she will be on a squad that will be playing for a spot in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, which will be held in August in Costa Rica.
Xu, a six-time Defensive Player of the Week during Montana’s championship season this past fall, was voted the 2021 Big Sky Conference Goalkeeper of the Year after posting a program-record 11 shutouts and finishing with a goals-against average of 0.72.
She was voted the MVP of the Big Sky tournament last month after helping the Grizzlies post 1-0 victories over Sacramento State in the semifinals and Weber State in the championship match.
Montana advanced to its sixth NCAA tournament, its third appearance in the last four years.
Xu, who is from Port Moody, B.C., came to Montana from the Vancouver Whitecaps, which has a history of sending players to national team camps.
“Whitecaps knows that at some point they have to send its players to college and they want to make sure the programs they go into continue developing them so they can be invited to these camps,” said Citowicki. That’s what I’m proud of, that we can continue developing these types of players. Hopefully Canada Soccer can look at this program and know they can trust us to develop our players so they can be invited back to represent their country.”