Before the Women’s World Cup this past summer in Germany, how many women’s soccer players could you name? Most likely one or two at most. Maybe none. But that all changed after the most exciting Women’s World Cup to date, with interest in women’s soccer rising to record levels.
With the U.S. ranked number one in the world, the team went into the World Cup with high expectations. After finishing second in their group, the U.S. women went on to play the quarterfinals against Brazil. In probably the most thrilling women’s game ever, Abby Wambach scored the latest goal in World Cup history in the 122nd minute to tie the game 2-2 and send the game into penalties, where Hope Solo came up big to help the U.S. win. Senior Connor Kennelly claimed, “Probably the best soccer game I’ve ever watched. And I’ve watched a lot of soccer.” Wambach’s goal actually won the ESPY for Best Moment this year in sports. From there, the U.S. beat France 3-1 in the semifinals before losing a heartbreaker to Japan in penalties.
The greatest part of the World Cup was not the actual games, though, but the excitement it created among the public in the United States. Not since the World Cup winning team of 1999 had a women’s soccer team received so much support. According to ESPN, the final between Japan and the United States actually broke the tweets-per-second record with an astonishing 7,196 tweets per second on Twitter.
Many people watched for the first time. Connor had never actually watched a women’s soccer game until this past summer, but he said, “I’m really glad I did,” adding, “I had no idea women’s soccer could be so exciting.” By the time the U.S. had generated all their momentum, restaurants and bars across the country were filled with patriotic fans. Senior Alex Miller went to Brewhouse Cafe for the final, where the “atmosphere was amazing. It was just as good if not better than the atmosphere for the men’s soccer team during the World Cup.” Connor agreed, saying, “It was great to see our country unite and get behind this team.”
A serious soccer player herself, senior Haley Zwecker said she was surprised to see how many people were watching her sport, hoping that this attention would continue. She added that “the US women helped inspire me and I’m sure every other girl soccer player out there.” After the women of 1999 were the team to emulate for over a decade, finally there is another team, the team of 2011, for young girl soccer players to look up to.
When asked if they would watch women’s soccer again, everyone interviewed agreed that they would. “If the games manage to stay exciting and the U.S. women keep doing well, then I’ll keep watching for sure,” said Connor. “Soccer’s soccer,” Alex Miller simply put. All the people out there who loved watching the U.S. women’s team play this summer can tune in next summer to watch them try to win gold in the London Olympics.