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Karina Maruyama the talented Soccer forward that will forever be remembered for her special game winning goal

Updated on November 22, 2017

Who is Karina Maruyama and why is she so important to women's soccer?

There are soccer players that leave a lasting legacy for the team in which they play for. Karina Maruyama is an example of a player like this. This talented soccer forward. Her biggest international success came at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. Maruyama scored the only goal of the game, sending Japan to its first ever World Cup Semifinal. And that goal will be considered one of the most special goals in the history of soccer.

Profile of Karina Maruyama

  • Date of birth: March 26, 1983 (34 years old)
  • Place of birth: Tokyo, Japan
  • Height: 5 feet and 4 inches tall
  • She plays for the club team Speranza F.C. Osaka-Takatsuki.

Karina Maruyama the talented soccer forward from Tokyo

Karina Maruyama stands for a team photo session in Coventry, England.
Karina Maruyama stands for a team photo session in Coventry, England. | Source

Karina Maruyama's International Career (2003-2012)

Maruyama has been a regular participant in the Olympic Games, playing in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Summer Olympic Games. In the 2012 Olympics, Japan won the silver medal, losing to the eventual champion the United States. Maruyama has 14 career international goals as of this writing. That number may not be very much but numbers do not tell the whole story. She was the single biggest reason for Japan’s march to the gold medal in 2011. Maruyama’s career goes back as far as 2003 when she scored 2 goals in a 7-0 victory over Guam in the 2003 Women’s AFC Championship. Maruyama would go on to score goals in games against Myanmar and Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). The score in those games was 7-0 and 5-0. Japan would score a total of 34 goals in 4 matches while surrendering no goals! That’s about as perfect as a soccer squad can get! Japan would lose 3-0 to North Korea in the knockout stages of the tournament. In the third place game, Japan would lose 1-0 to South Korea. But I really think that the first game of that tournament would be the most memorable for the Japanese team. It was an offensive onslaught as Japan beat the Philippines 15-0! Less than one month later on July 12, 2003, Maruyama scored a goal in 2-0 victory over Mexico in a World Cup qualifying match in Tokyo. And then during the qualifying rounds at the 2004 Summer Olympics, Maruyama scored goals in victories against Vietnam and Thailand. Japan would beat Thailand twice, winning 6-0 both times.

In 2006, Japan would play a friendly match against Team Germany in Karlsruhe. Two years later in the 2008 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, Maruyama would score goals against Chinese Taipei in two separate matches as Japan’s offensive onslaught showed up once again. Japan would finish in third place beating Australia 3-0. In that game, Japan would get goals from Yuki Nagasato (Ogimi), Aya Miyama, and captain Homare Sawa in the 86th minute. Japan would beat Australia again in 2008 during a friendly match.

Karina Maruyama in a qualifying match in 2011

Karina Maruyama plays during a qualifying match between Japan and China in Jinan, China.
Karina Maruyama plays during a qualifying match between Japan and China in Jinan, China. | Source

The 2011 FIFA World Cup and "The Goal"

In the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Japan would beat New Zealand 2-1. However, they would lose to England 2-0. This loss would leave Japan unfazed as they would deliver a convincing 4-0 victory over Mexico. I remember this tournament very fondly as I was at home watching these games. Captain Homare Sawa scored a hat trick in that game. In the quarterfinals is where Japan would make a name for themselves in the history books of soccer. After battling host country Germany hard for 90 minutes, Karina Maruyama delivered the knockout blow, the only goal of the game as Japan won 1-0 in the 108th minute. . That sent shockwaves not only throughout the stadium but I really think they shocked an entire country. The goal that Maruyama scored was so good, no human could have caught that ball! Japan would beat Sweden 3-1 in the semifinals as Homare Sawa would score again in minute 60. This put Japan in the final against the tough and talented US team. After USA’s Alex Morgan scored in the 69th minute, I really thought that the match was going to be over. However, Japan’s toughness and determination ensued as Aya Miyama scored in the 81st minute to tie the game. But in the 104th minute, Abby Wambach scored to put the US ahead. That lead would not last long as Homare Sawa scored again in the 117th minute, thus keeping Japan’s hopes for a title alive. The match would head to penalty kicks where Saki Kumagai would net the winner and so Japan’s quest for a World Cup title was complete! It was only fitting for it to end this way. Japan as a nation had suffered so much because of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. They deserved to win the whole tournament. Japan’s soccer team earned this one and congratulations to them. Maruyama did not play for the national team during the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

A Photo of Soccer Forward Karina Maruyama in Traditional Soccer Jacket

Karina Maruyama's importance to the Japanese National Squad: here is why

The importance of Karina Maruyama to this soccer team must be emphasized. If Roberto Baggio was important and critical to Team Italy’s success in the 1990’s, Karina Maruyama was just as important for Japan. If it was not for that goal, Japan may not have even made it to the semifinals that year, let alone win the entire tournament. Homare Sawa may be more famous and recognized for this Japanese team, but Karina Maruyama’s name will forever be associated with international soccer. We could call that goal against Germany the goal that made the Japanese women’s soccer team a team to be remembered forever. I am so happy that Japan won the tournament. Victories such as this are meant to be and Karina Maruyama is a player that will be remembered by soccer fans worldwide.

Karina Maruyama scores an amazing World Cup goal


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