US women’s team a soccer powerhouse

Commentary

Those who have cried for more scoring in the game of soccer got exactly that as the U.S. Women’s National Team came out in its opening World Cup game in France against Thailand and buried 13 goals in the back of the nets in a 13-0 pounding of the Thai Women’s Team.

The game was highlighted by three-time World Cup veteran Alex Morgan’s record-tying five-goal performance. Their opening heroics broke all scoring records in World Cup history for both men and women.

Coach Jill Ellis’ U.S. squad has incredible firepower and experience in her forwards with Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe playing in their third World Cup tourney, while Carli Lloyd is in her fourth World Cup. They have incredible potential to light up the scoreboard as they come in as the top-ranked team in the world and defending World Cup Champs.

The U.S. is seeking its fourth World Cup championship. The team also wants to make a statement on the field to support their lawsuit for equal pay with the Men’s U.S. National Team, which has not experienced nearly the success the women have on the world stage of soccer.

The women’s team features six players taking part in their third World Cup, and 11 taking part in their first, with veteran Lloyd seeing her fourth World Cup tourney.

American goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, stepping up from her backup roll to that of a starter attempting to fill the shoes of legendary keeper Hope Solo, has yet to be tested, seeing only two shots on goal in her opening game.

Solo’s bitter removal from the team following numerous controversial incidents led her to say, “Coach Jill Ellis cracks under pressure.” Naeher, however, is surrounded by experienced defenders with Ali Krieger, Kelly O’Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn all playing in their third World Cup.

The American women in their Group F will face Chile and Sweden. Chile played well against Sweden in a tight opening game, and Sweden has always played tough against the U.S.

Altoona Soccer Club and United States Soccer Federation referee Ryan Graham, along with wife and niece, have journeyed to France to support the U.S. women. They were there for the kickoff game with England and Scotland.

Local success

Locally, some area teams are achieving some big goals. The Hollidaysburg Soccer Association (HSA) U-17 Boys Blazers won the Division 1 of the PAWest Classic League in their first year there.

The U-16 HSA Boys Hooligans squad, under the direction of Brian Hanson and Mike Pastore, are advancing to the Eastern Regional Championships of the Presidents Cup in Barboursville, W.Va. this week, playing one game each day until the finals. From here the team hopes to move onto the Presidents Cup National Championship in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

The 2004 Olympic Development Program (ODP) Boys team from PA West had four local players playing on two teams. Kade Black and Gavin Lamborn were on the 2004 team with Graham Black and Austin Kravetz on the 2003 team.

The 2004 boys went 2-0-1 and won their group, earning a trip to Eastern Regional semifinals on June 22 in Kirkwood, Delaware.

The 2002 ODP Girls team also came out successful playing this past weekend in Kirkwood, Del. Representing our area on the ODP squad were Morgan Sarver, Darrian Berkheimer, Cassie Kyle and Greta Staley.

Several local coaches and players were also part of the Mountain District Union U18/19 and U15 Girls teams which captured first place in the FC Delco Players Cup Tournament held recently in Philadelphia.

The Altoona AYSO program, which ushered soccer playing in our area in, has also seen growth and expansion in their program as well. There has been a large spike in registration and participation. They have also expanded the scope of their program to now include many more player development programs.

Congratulations to Bedford Soccer Club referee Erick Seager for handling the most club soccer games as Center Referee in our area.

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