Soccer players from Oak Forest and Homer Glen traveled to Australia and New Zealand for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, saying the highlight of the trip was being in the stands during the Colombia vs. Germany game and playing local teams in scrimmage games.
Amelia Price, 20, of Oak Forest and Olivia Rivera, 19, of Homer Glen, both play for the Carthage College women’s soccer team. Every four years, the school plans a trip for the team to bond, Price said.
“It was the trip of a lifetime,” Price said. “It’s definitely something that I’ll 100% remember.”
In 2020, the team planned its first international trip to Italy for spring break, said Coach Ian Wilson, but the trip was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With extra travel funds and the Women’s World Cup taking place, Wilson said the team decided to go to New Zealand and Australia.
“It was absolutely amazing. We experienced a lot of different things,” Wilson said. “It was important for us to experience those things.”
Price, who will be the team’s captain in the upcoming season, said the team had tickets to three games: Italy vs. Argentina in Auckland, New Zealand; Portugal vs. Vietnam in Hamilton, New Zealand; and Colombia vs. Germany in Sydney, Australia.
At the Italy vs. Argentina game, Price said the team went to stand near the field to take in the moment. As they stood there, she said the camera crew panned over them and they were briefly on the jumbo screen.
“It was a super surreal moment to be at the World Cup with my team,” Price said.
At the remaining two games, Price said she’ll never forget sitting among the Portugal fans and the Colombia fans and being “adopted” by the fans as they gave them flags and face paint.
During the Colombia vs. Germany game, Price said the stadium felt like it was 90% full of Colombia fans, who were very passionate and energetic. It was her team’s favorite game, Price said, because of the energy and how well Colombia played. Colombia won 2-1 by scoring a goal in the final minutes of the game, she said.
“That was probably the loudest stadium I’ve been in,” Price said. “The energy was just crazy.”
Rivera said the Colombia vs. Germany game was her favorite because the Colombia team had so many fans.
“I felt like we were in Colombia. It was the loudest game I’ve been to — men or women soccer,” Rivera said.
It was also inspiring to watch Colombia beat the second best team in the world, she said.
“They put their everything into that game,” Rivera said. “That just showed me that anything can be done on the field if you put your mind to it.”
While in New Zealand and Australia, Price said her team played two scrimmage games against local teams in each country. The Carthage team lost both games, she said, but they enjoyed the experience of playing new challengers.
“These were some of the best teams in their area. It was awesome to play teams with that good of competition,” Rivera said.
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While the team didn’t have tickets for a U.S. game, Price said they were able to watch some U.S. games in designated fan zones, public areas where fans could watch games together on a big screen.
It was disappointing that the U.S. team lost, Price said, but this year’s team didn’t have some of the big name players from previous years, like Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath, Christen Press and Becky Sauerbrunn.
Particularly, it was difficult to watch U.S. vs. Portugal game, Price said, because while Portugal played better than the U.S., the U.S. should’ve done a better job and won.
The U.S. team won the last two FIFA tournaments, so it’s difficult to come back and do it a third time, she said.
“This World Cup was 100% not their best showing,” Price said. “It was disappointing. But reigning back-to-back champions is a hard title to hold.”
Rivera agreed it was disappointing that U.S. won’t win the tournament again. In previous years, the U.S. team would dominate over other teams, Rivera said, but this recent loss shows her that women soccer teams around the world are training more and gaining popularity.
“It’s so awesome that the rest of the world is catching up to us,” Rivera said. “We need more women’s soccer.”