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Port Moody soccer goalie gets her shot for national team

Camellia Xu is coming off a record-setting season at the University of Montana
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Port Moody's Camellia Xu makes a save for the University of Montana Grizzlies.

A soccer goalie from Port Moody could soon be making saves for Canada at the CONCACAF women’s U20 championship in the Dominican Republic Feb. 25 to March 12.

Camellia Xu is one of 25 players invited to the U20 national team’s camp in Markham, Ont., beginning Sunday (Jan. 9). The redshirt freshman at the University of Montana will be one of three goalkeepers vying for a chance to represent their country, along with Anna Karpenko from Harvard University and Ann Stephanie Fortin who plays at Rice University in Texas.

“I think it’s every little girl’s dream to represent their country and wear their flag," said Xu in a news release.

It’s her first crack at playing for a national squad.

Xu played minor soccer in the Coquitlam Metro-Ford program. She also played for Mountain United FC in the BC Soccer Premier League before she joined the Whitecaps FC Girls Elite REX program in 2018. She’s also been a member of Team British Columbia since 2015.

After graduating from Burnaby Central Secondary School in 2020, Xu headed to Montana where she sat out her first season with the Grizzlies as she honed her craft under veteran keeper Claire Howard, who broke the Big Sky Conference record for career shutouts and was named its goalkeeper of the year after the 2021 spring season.

Since stepping into the box herself, Xu allowed 14 goals in 20 games and was named the goalkeeper of the year in the Big Sky Conference.

She was also the conference's most valuable player in the post-season when she made nine saves to lead the Grizzlies to its seventh conference championship, capped by a 1-0 win over fourth-ranked Weber State in the final where Xu made six saves.

Earlier in the season Xu was the Big Sky's defensive player of the week on three straight occasions and she earned the recognition six times overall.

Xu finished the fall campaign with 11 shutouts, a record for keepers at the University of Montana. Her goals-against average was a miserly 0.72.

Teams at the CONCACAF championship will be playing for a spot in the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup, that is being held in Costa Rica in August.