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U.S. soccer team success kicks up local enthusiasm

Colfax teen has watched every game of World Cup
By: Sena Christian, Gold Country News Service
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American soccer fans felt the dread set in as the U.S. women’s team fell down 1 to 2 against Brazil during a World Cup quarterfinal match on Sunday. Only a few minutes remained in extra time — at the end of overtime — and a loss for the Americans looked imminent. Then, in a game that will likely go down in history as one of the most exciting World Cup matches ever, the U.S. team launched a comeback. They tied the Brazilians with a last-minute header goal by forward Abby Wambach and went on to win 5 to 3 in a penalty kick shootout. U.S. goalie Hope Solo made a brilliant save to secure the win. Today the team plays a semifinal game against France. In the other bracket, Japan competes against Sweden. Soccer fans in Placer County have been watching the drama unfold as the Americans vie for a third Cup title. “I’ve been watching the whole thing,” said Kate Bianchi, a senior at Colfax High School and member of their soccer squad. “Whoever’s playing, I’ve been watching.” That includes the game when Japan upset host team and two-time defending champion Germany with a goal in the 108th minute. Bianchi was disappointed when England lost to France on penalties in a quarterfinal game. “My favorite game was definitely the U.S. against Brazil game,” Bianchi said. “(But) it’s so unfair when the ref has an influence over the game like that.” The referee called a foul again U.S. defender Rachel Buehler in the penalty box and issued her a red card. Buehler had to leave the field, leaving the Americans down a player. Solo saved the resulting penalty kick, but the referee allowed Brazil to retake the kick — a controversial call to some. Kyle Howarth, who recently graduated from Granite Bay High School and played defense for their soccer team, watched the U.S. quarterfinal game. “I’d never really watched women’s soccer,” Howarth said. “It was a very exciting game. One of the most exciting soccer games I’ve ever seen with all the controversies and that last-second goal. I was entertained.” Kayla Garcia, a senior at Colfax High School and soccer player, has watched several of the World Cup games but missed the U.S. versus Brazil game — and heard all about it from friends. “I think the U.S. has been playing pretty good,” Garcia said. “Women’s soccer doesn’t get a lot of attention. We’re a really good (team) but we haven’t been put up on a pedestal like men’s soccer has.” Garcia, who plays a forward position, doesn’t have a favorite player on this year’s U.S. team. “When I was younger, I loved Mia Hamm,” Garcia said of the superstar. “I was obsessed with her.” Phil Rowe, communications director for the Eureka Youth Soccer Club in Granite Bay, watched the big quarterfinal match and commended the Americans for their positive sportsmanship and caliber of play. “That gave a good representation of the differences in sportsmanship you see and how we coach our players to act in games,” Rowe said. The third-place World Cup game takes place Saturday and the final match commences Sunday. Will the U.S. team go on to win a Cup title for the first time since 1999? Soccer fans will soon find out. Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com.