Alex Morgan scores for Cal last October. Photo:

Fans of the U.S. women’s World Cup team could finally stop biting their nails in the 82nd minute yesterday when Alex Morgan, a standout for Cal, chipped over French goalkeeper Berangere Sapowicz to take the score to 3-1. The win carried the U.S. team into Sunday’s final against Japan.

Morgan came into the game as a substitute in the 56th minute, and added speed and freshness to a U.S. attack that had looked second best to France for much of the game. After threatening for long periods, France had just equalized. Morgan created a number of chances before Abby Wambach scored on a header to inch the Americans ahead in the 79th minute. Then came Morgan’s goal.

“Alex’s explosive game is very difficult for a team to control,” said Neil McGuire, coach of the Cal women’s soccer team. McGuire coached Morgan throughout her career at Cal.

McGuire, a laconic Scotsman, enthused about Morgan’s goal: “If Lionel Messi had scored that goal, it would be the number one goal in the highlights reel.” McGuire described how Morgan raced onto the ball, took what seemed a step or two too many, and spotted the goalkeeper going down for the save before cooly chipping it over and into the far corner of the net.

McGuire said Morgan’s role on the U.S. World Cup squad and junior Betsy Hassett’s on New Zealand’s World Cup team are “a testament to the work we do here. It augers well for our future.”

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...