'I took a deep breath': Family and friends react to London Ont.'s Jessie Fleming's medal winning goal vs. USA

Canada's Jessie Fleming, 17, celebrates scoring the opening goal on a penalty kick during a women's semifinal soccer match against United States at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Aug. 2, 2021, in Kashima, Japan. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

John Fleming's cheers woke up his dogs early this morning, after his daughter Jessie scored the game winning goal in a 1-0 win over USA in the Olympic Semi-final Monday morning.

"I was terrified and thrilled, all within seconds," says Fleming from London, Ont.

The win sends Canada's Olympic Soccer team to the Olympic gold medal game, and guarantees them of at least a silver medal.

In a scoreless game in the 74th minute, American defender Tierna Davidson was called for a foul when her left foot hit Deanne Rose's leg just inside the penalty area as they chased a loose ball.

Fleming, 23, from London stepped up after being handed the ball from Christine Sinclair, and made no mistake with a strike inside the post past keeper Adrianna Franch.

"I took a deep breath and did what I've done before," Jessie said after the match.

Canada's Jessie Fleming, 17, celebrates scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot during a women's semifinal soccer match against United States at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, in Kashima, Japan. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

And according to her father John, and London soccer guru Chris Loucks it's no surprise she converted. "It's great for Jess," says John.

"She focuses on that stuff, she practices it, and she's mentally prepared. Sometimes good keepers make big saves at the right times but yeah she put that in a tough spot for any keeper to get to. She's missed a couple in the past and big situations but that one was bang on".

Chris Loucks is the technical director at London TFC Academy, but was previously at NorWest Soccer when Jessie' played there as a youth.

"She couldn't hit it any better than that it was," says Loucks.

"It was obviously nerve racking and she hits side mesh and I think it just grazed the post. It was the perfectly placed shot at the perfect time. Big time players step up in big time games and that was big."

Loucks says he's not surprised she made the kick after years of practice.

"People don't see the amount of time she puts into the game outside of the game," says Loucks.

"She came home from a stint with the national team and three days before she goes back to school, she's on a pitch for a couple hours kicking the ball around and so that that strike doesn't come by accident. It's the work you put in, when people don't see".

When she celebrated her strike, fellow Londoner Shelina Zadorsky was the first one off the sideline to meet her as Fleming slide along her knees in joy.

Canada's Jessie Fleming, top left, scores the opening goal from the penalty spot during a women's semifinal soccer match against United States at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Aug. 2, 2021, in Kashima, Japan. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Zadorsky has had a roller-coaster games, after beginning the tournament as as starter, but is now off the bench in favour of Vanessa Giles.

She's now taking a leadership role in cheering on her squad, waiting for another opportunity.

Shelina's mom Mary was so thrilled for Jessie, as their families have become really close during the pair of Londoners time with the national program.

"Shelina is like her big sister really," says Mary Zadorsky.

"They get to see each other a lot because they play against each other in England as well. She even said, I just want Jesse to score, and she did at the right time."

The win means that Zadorsky and Fleming will bring home either a gold or silver medal after Thursday nights final against Sweden. The duo already have a bronze medal from the 2016 Olympics.

"Their whole their whole mission statement was to change the color of the medal and it's going from bronze to a different color anyway so it's absolutely fantastic," says Zadorsky.

"The goal for these women is to get Christine Sinclair a gold medal. So you've got an entire team and entire family community that has one one mission, one vision, and it's, let's get this done. It was a perfect game."

In an interview after the match, Jessie Fleming says it was time to get some rest and for eighth-ranked Canada to start looking ahead to the gold medal match against No. 5 Sweden.

London, Ont. will be watching with the game in prime-time at 10 p.m. EST Thursday night, rather than Monday's 4 a.m. start.

John Fleming thinks it's too early to call a winner, calling it '50/50'.

Loucks believes the Canadians will need to find more offence in the gold-medal game.

Canada's Jessie Fleming, 17, celebrates scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot during a women's semifinal soccer match against United States at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, in Kashima, Japan. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

"With a penalty kick today, you know we only had I think maybe two shots on target," says Loucks.

"Fortunately our defense only gave up I think four shots on target. So we've had a challenge scoring goals throughout the last run with the national team so we have to make sure we continue to be defensively strong. The backline that was in the game today was solid and didn't give up any scoring chances, and you need to create more chances to get goals."

He feels Sinclair has not had a lot of great chances, and their exciting young players have to get the ball in the final third and get some shots on net to score goals.

No matter the result, it's another pair of medals heading back to London, Ont. which has already seen Susane Grainer bring home gold, and Maggie Mac Neil win a gold, silver and bronze in Tokyo.

"Ironically Granger, Maggie and Jessie, all live within five blocks of each other," says John Fleming.

"It is massive for London, and Shelina is a big part of that too. It's so much fun and I can't wait to see Damian Warner too. The list goes on, and it's awesome".