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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bring that Trophy back HOME!

I think it’s fair to say, if we are still celebrating the Women’s World Cup Championship, then it’s not too late to write the final chapter.   What a month it was!

The moving puzzle pieces always seemed to fit no matter the guest, the host, the venue, the count, or the mode of transportation.  Meeting places, parking places, sleeping places and fan appreciation places were all discussed and re-hashed over and over, but the momentum of the World Cup threw all the planning, or lack thereof, out the window and made for a surprisingly smooth final.  Let's add to the fact that we added 4 more house guests:  Brian Adler, Cisco Giron, Carol and Terryn Dyche AND decided to attend a Sounders Game the night of July 3rd and reserved a table at The Lodge for a group of 20.
Brian, Cicso and Team Griffin Go Sounders!
Before we crossed the border we were invited to a 4th of July shindig headed up by former US Teammate, Cal Bear and ’91 World Champ Mary Harvey on beautiful Lake Samish hosted by Sandy Hunt; one of the best referees to ever set foot on the pitch.
Parts or all of Aspegren, Hipps, Thomas, Meyer, Roth, Gallimore, Harvey Families

We watched the 3rd place match outdoors on a big screen, dined on ridiculous salmon and other fare and of course hollered at Sandy and her referee buddies after every call!  You can tell she is rarely allowed to enjoy a game if anyone else is in the room because she was prepped and ready.  Only thing missing was a whistle around her neck.

JT, Mary, Lesle, Sandy, Booty :) 
 “What do you think? No way!!!  Would you have called that?!”   Before the interrogation began Sandy was already prepped with her answer and response!  "They are never going to call that in a 3rd place game." or "Watch when they show the is clearly onside." and ... she was, of course, correct!

Flipping a coin as to which border crossing to hit we flew into Canada in record time; with one last ditch effort to try to organize the unorganizable.

“We’ll park the R.V. and then take a bus…” “Well, we are staying in the dorms with Cisco, Brian, the Roths, the Stewarts, and their friends and families… so we will bus in and then….”  “How about if the RV drives to the dorms.. and then we hook up with the ….”  “My friend from Japan wants to meet  near the stadium…” “Anyone want to tackle the Fan Zone?”  
Finally, it came down to the smart people.  “We are staying at the Sandman… it’s a block from the stadium.  See you there pre-and post match. "  Roger that.

The prefunc’ included painted faces, painted nails, listening to “USA!, USA!, USA” every so often as fans traipsed through the streets of Vancouver getting ready for the match. 
The armchair quarterback in all of us (admit it) around Team
 USA had already been hashed and re-hashed.  The semi final that silenced the Germans also silenced the naysayers. This allowed nothing to discuss other than how excited every person we bumped into was excited for kickoff time.   I’m not sure if the fans were 100% confident or all of us had absorbed the enormity of the experience;  we were at a World Cup Final.    Our friend, J.T., got a little teary-eyed as she realized how special it was that all of us old soccer hags actually had our tweeners in attendance! So very, very cool!  Truly, once in a lifetime.  
Our friend Katharin Roth would just begin crying afterwards and STILL hasn't stopped... sitting at home in Utah now watching and re-watching the interviews, the parade and reading articles. What an awesome event to attend.  As a fan, there really is nothing like it.. especially when your team is going to walk out of the tunnel when that FIFA anthem begins.
Sarah, Kate and Lauren to the rescue: photobomber: JACK
Walking thru Vancouver, excitement rose to a crescendo as the clock ticked.  A sea of Red, White and Blue; including a small contingency of Japanese fans, were the only people near the jam packed stadium.  The casual tourist could not be found.  If there was someone dressed as a pedestrian, I missed her as it looked as if only soccer fans were allowed into the city.  

Not sure who the Canadians were disguised as, but to be fair, they were outstanding fans and hosts the entire month.  This wasn't just ANY match we were marching to, it was the rematch of the 2011 WWC shere the USA dominated the first 15 minutes but allowed Japan to pluck the gold medal out of our grip,  because for the first 45 we couldn't finish our chances.  (SEE GERMANY ' 11 Blog!) 

We were there nice and early to watch warm ups, purchase one more bag of mini donuts from the stadium and get our game faces on.  Settling down, we saw red white and blue... and freedom.  You may think I am talking about our national anthem, and the freedom we exercise every day.  But nope, I am talking about the freedom Carli Lloyd had to get forward and score goals.  It happened that quickly. National Anthem. Whistle. Kick Off.  Goal. Goal.  Surreal.  Everyone in our section hugging, screaming and shouting.  "This is awesome! Oh My God!"

 These goals were perfectly planned, executed and played out like a sweet symphony.  So many musicians with different scores, but one clean beautiful sound.  In this case, the sound was the back of the net and the joyful chaos of 53,000 fans not fully understanding what was going on.  There were 53, 400 but I'm not counting a few because so many were still pondering which concession line would be the shortest and missed the moment that was the crux of the entire match.  

Truly, this was the craziest start to a World Cup Final you could imagine.  It took place at the goal directly in front of us and you seriously felt like leaping the wall heading to the corner flag and celebrating with #10 and HER team! 

The momentum of 2 goals allows for a deep breath, some smiles and some very beautiful soccer. Long passing strings where each player wanted a touch of the ball, quick and precise passing and a togetherness that allowed for one team to remind the world why it's called, "The Beautiful Game" .  
I wish the players' bench could have had a seat next to the thousands of fans to feel and see and hear the exuberance they were creating for all of us.
Hey WNT! Look how happy you have made us!
 And then BOOM!  A goal from Lloyd from 54 yards out!  One of my favorite moments was watching Carli sprint to Hope to celebrate.  Maybe it was because sprinting toward the goal she scored on was further away than where Hope was standing; but I think it's because those 2 are tight; respectful of Hope's role, and she knows how much Hope wishes she could dog pile with the group. Her job is to manage the ebbs and flows of the game. She cannot switch off for a second; because she knows a few of her teammates may accidentally lose focus with adrenaline rush;  a GK is not allowed this luxury.  
If you are reading the blog, you saw the game. No need to rehash as there is no possible way anyone can do justice to the party that took place inside that stadium.  But a great quick recap could be found here if ya' like.  

The podium, the trophy, the smiles, the relief, the triumph!  The Triumph!  The L.A. reception, the NY Ticker Tape parade and the homecomings…including being able to welcome Hope and Pinoe back to Seattle.  

 What a tremendous celebration of sport; of our sport; of soccer, of women and the women’s game.  If I were Ann Schatz I might say: It was epic, it was enduring, and it was the epitome of excellence.  Maybe she’ll read this and need to borrow it from me?
HS Buddies; Diane (Gramstrup) Moore flew

UW Alumni:  Smitty, Gina, Malia, Tina, & Cheryl

Hiromi and Amy reunited from U20WWC in Japan

Thanks to everyone whose paths we’ve crossed in the past and then again over the last month. The game of women’s soccer has given us so much!  Once in a lifetime truly never seemed so apropos. 

Bon Voyage! Bon Chance! Merci beaucoups et vous voir en France en 2019!

The 2G Network….which will have grown again by one or more (eek) by then!

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