The United States Women National Soccer Team has had a great start in the FIFA World Cup, hosted this year by France, and their performance is inspiring young women and girls from Vermillion, South Dakota.
“They are so determined and fight so hard,” said Kasey Herbster, former Vermillion High School goalie/forward, and current DII player at Concordia University, St. Paul. “They won their first game with no mercy.”
The USWNT defeated Thailand 13-0 in their first game of the World Cup last Tuesday. They went on to defeat Chile 3-0 this past Sunday.
“Every player on that team inspires all soccer players at all levels and creates a really positive environment for everyone to learn and thrive on the soccer field,” said Hannah Gruhn, VHS midfielder. “Just watching them play makes me want to be the best teammate and player I can be.”
The WNT also inspires young soccer players to be more than just athletes.
“They show what we can become,” said Alexa LaCognata, midfielder/defender at VHS. “Not just as soccer players, but as women: brave, outstanding, and fearless.”
Alex Morgan, a forward on the WNT, scored five of the 13 goals and got the assist on three others in the WNT’s first game.
“Alex Morgan is my favorite,” said Herbster. “When I was in middle school, I did a project on her. I’ve played her position before, and I’ve never seen anyone as skilled as she is.”
LaCognata’s favorite player is forward Carli Lloyd. Lloyd scored two goals against Chile.
“After games when she’s lost and won, she greeted her opponents with companionship,” said LaCognata.
While the women dominate overseas, they leave an impression on the hearts of players in Vermillion.
“The U.S. National Team motivates me to keep working hard and trying my best,” said Gruhn. “Knowing that all of the super successful players have been through the same thing is comforting when I have an off-week at practice.”
The obstacles the players of the WNT overcome, both on-and-off the field, prove to girls across the nation they can get through anything.
“It’s so inspiring how hard they work no matter the adversity they face,” said Herbster.
One thing Herbster has learned from the USWNT is “to keep kicking even when the world keeps fighting against you.”
The USWNT played Sweden this past Wednesday to finish the matches in Group F. The Round of 16 will begin on Saturday and play out through Tuesday with the winners moving on to the Quarter-finals.
“The National Team obviously puts more time into their training than the average high school player, since that is their job, but seeing their accomplishments after all the work they put in is inspiring,” said Gruhn. “Every player has the chance to work their hardest and can choose what they get out of each practice and game.”