Verona Cheers As USWNT Takes Home Fourth World Cup

By on July 8, 2019

Chloe, Ella and Linette Mathewson

On June 24, my family set off to France on a two-week journey. Back in 2015, when my family and I found out that the ninth Women’s World Cup would be in France, we decided right then that we had to be there. In January, U.S. Soccer started selling contingency tickets for the semis and finals of the World Cup meaning that if the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) were to make the semis or the finals, buyers would have tickets to those games. Purchasing those tickets was a bit of a gamble as the U.S. women were sure to come up against some stiff competition throughout the tournament, but we had an inkling they would make it.

Sure enough they did. After a stunning group stage in which the U.S. broke the record for most amount of goals ever scored in a World Cup match against Thailand, the US beat Spain in the knockout round. We watched from our Airbnb in Rousillon, France as the U.S. took on home team France in the quarterfinals. We were ecstatic when the U.S. finished that game victorious because that meant we would be able to see them in Lyon on July 2.

Approximately 53,000 fans turned up to see the U.S. take on England in Lyon’s Olympic Stadium. It was a bit of a nail biter: England had a goal called back due to off-sides and the U.S. keeper, Alyssa Naehr, saved a penalty kick that would’ve tied the game up for England. In the end, the U.S. earned a 2-1 victory in a well-fought match. Off to the finals!

Yesterday, the stadium was filled to full capacity, with 57,900 fans coming out for the Women’s World Cup final, USA vs. the Netherlands. American fans far outnumbered the Dutch. We had amazing seats -— directly behind the goal in the lowest tier -— in the supporter’s section. Our whole section was on their feet for the entire match, chanting variations of “USA” and some renditions of “The Saints Go Marching In” and “Yankee Doodle.”

In the first half, the U.S. had a few close shots on goals, but due to some amazing saves by the Dutch goalkeeper, the game remained scoreless. The Netherlands also had a few promising attacks; many thought the game could go either way.

At the hour mark, the U.S. was awarded a penalty kick when Alex Morgan was fouled in the box. Megan Rapinoe stepped up to the spot and neatly placed her third penalty kick of the tournament into the back of the net. The crowd went absolutely wild.

Less than 10 minutes later, Rose Lavelle took on the Dutch defensive line and planted another one for the U.S., making the game 2-0. For the last 20 minutes of the game, the U.S. continued to dominate even after the Dutch added an attacking player. When the final whistle blew, the entire stadium erupted in cheers.

Just minutes later, the awards ceremony began. The president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, came onto the field instantly accompanied by booing from the crowd due to the treatment of women’s soccer under the organization. French President Emmanuel Macron was also present to congratulate the U.S. and the Netherlands on their outstanding accomplishments. Just before the individual awards were announced, the crowd began to chant: “equal pay!” Since the last World Cup, the USWNT has been vocal about the wage gaps between the men and women’s national teams, which are both under U.S. Soccer. The men’s team have much more beneficial contracts in comparison, and many wonder why based on the women’s outstanding accomplishments.

Megan Rapinoe was awarded the Golden Boot for being the highest scoring player of the tournament. She was also awarded the Golden Ball for best player of the tournament. Alex Morgan was awarded the Silver Boot for being the second highest scoring player of the tournament. Rose Lavelle won the Bronze Ball for outstanding play. The Dutch keeper was awarded the Golden Gloves.

The USWNT then changed into brand-new jerseys that each read “Champions” with the number 19 on the back (for 2019) to receive their medals and the World Cup trophy.

Following the awards ceremony, the team did a victory lap. When they arrived in front of the supporters’ section, Rapinoe grabbed the trophy and lifted it up; the crowd roared. Then she did it again; the crowd roared again. She continued to do it over and over and the crowd was just as loud each time. The team also made “snow angels” in the confetti surrounding the stage and many many hugs were exchanged.

This was the women’s fourth World Cup title, twice as many as any other nation, and I’m sure it wasn’t their last.

Chloe Mathewson, a rising senior at Verona High School, has played soccer since childhood.

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