Making a name for herself

NEATE SAGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

Christina Julien has cut one tie to her early years since stepping on to Canada's women's soccer team.

It was a small price to pay for Julien, who scored 11 minutes into her international debut last month after becoming the first Ottawa Fury youth player to play for the national team.

"They wouldn't allow them to call me 'Corky,' " the 20-year-old forward from Williamstown says with a laugh. "They said it was because of some TV show (the early '90s sitcom Life Goes On). I've had that nickname since I was 12. The coaches all call me 'Christina,' the other players call me 'C.J.' ... I'm okay with making that sacrifice."

Julien could earn her next cap on May 25 in a Canada-Japan friendly in Toronto, when the team plays its first home game under coach Carolina Morace.

ALL-AMERICAN

Julien was never identified by the national team program, but the coaching change and an effort to play a more direct style spurred the program to look at the forward who was fresh off an all-American season at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

"It was less than two days before the start of our camp in L.A. in February when we called Christina up, just to come in and just be seen in a training-camp format," says Canada assistant coach Andrea Neil.

"She showed up seven hours later, having come clear across the U.S. to be with us in Los Angeles ... Right from the first session, you could see something special in her eyes, a willingness to try things.

"She did a great job to play up front with (national team star) Christine Sinclair (during exhibition games) in Rome and the tournament in Cyprus," Neil adds. "You could see each game that she was getting a little bit more comfortable and consistent."

Julien says it felt "surreal" when she put on her Canadian game jersey for the first time, adding veteran 'keeper Karina Leblanc helped settle her down. "She said, 'Make the most of it -- we all have your back,' " says Julien, who promptly scored the first goal in a 1-1 tie with New Zealand at the Cyprus Cup, where Canada went 2-0-1.

Julien, who plans to play for the Laval Comets during the W-League season, is buoyed by her start with the national team.

"I think what Carolina liked most about me is that I'm young, only 20," she says. "I'm hoping they take me in and build on me."

The Char-Lan District grad put in a lot of sweat equity while working with trainer Jeff Gibbs of Glengarry, whose pupils include Ottawa Senators winger Jesse Winchester. Julien started working with Gibbs following arthroscopic surgery on her right knee exactly two years ago today.

"I felt like the surgery had set me back and I knew I had more to give -- I was disappointed by how my past season had gone," she says.

"After two summers with Jeff, my fitness level is so much better. I'm super-excited to work with him, even if I hate him when I'm doing it."

Nickname or not, Julien has a reminder of home every time she takes the pitch -- and she's mindful about putting Williamstown on the map.

"I love the fact that I'm from a small town. It makes me proud to know that there's a concentration of people who can associate my success with them."


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