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2015 FIFA World Cup Reflections with NAU Women's Soccer

2015 FIFA World Cup Reflections with NAU Women's Soccer

Photo Courtesy of Natalie Gilbertson

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – July 5, 2015 may go down as the one of the most important dates in the history of soccer in the United States. Only time will tell, but early indications are that the landscape is already changing in a big way.

With a country clad in red, white & blue throughout the stadium and in pep rallies, gatherings and homes throughout America, the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team struck early – and often – in their FIFA World Cup Final against Japan in Vancouver, Canada. Carli Lloyd's hat trick staked the Americans a 4-0 lead in the first 16 minutes setting off the party. Soon, U.S.A. was hoisting the World Cup trophy for the first time since the memorable 1999 final while turning the tables after Japan downed them on the biggest stage just four years ago.

What followed was remarkable and possibly game-changing. The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team was greeted by 10,000 fans in their homecoming pep rally in Los Angeles. They then traveled cross country to New York City becoming the first women's sports team to ever be celebrated with a ticker-tape parade.

Attendance at National Women's Soccer League matches has seen a spike since the national team players have returned to their respective professional clubs reaching a league record high of 21,144 between the Portland Thorns and Seattle Reign in Portland on July 22.

All of this can because of a group of 23 players who captured the nation's attention. For redshirt junior goalkeeper Natalie Gilbertson, who was able to experience the festivities first hand in Canada for the United States' group play match against Nigeria, it was an experience like none other.

"It was overwhelming; I started crying when Hope Solo stepped on the field," Gilbertson said. "They were trying to prove something, they were trying to prove they were World Champions so to see that caliber of athletes it was amazing. I couldn't even describe the feeling."

Nearly a month later, the buzz is certainly still strong regarding the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team. Interested what the NAU Women's Soccer team has to say about the World Champions? Read below for thoughts on their favorite players, most memorable moments and the future of soccer from Gilbertson, senior forward Haley Wingender, redshirt sophomore defender Missy Kettelkamp and sophomore forward Anna Goebel.

#1 Natalie Gilbertson

RJr. - Goalkeeper

Las Vegas, Nev.

What will be your lasting image or moment you'll always remember from the 2015 World Cup?

"The final game. It was amazing job that they did in that game. Who scores more than a hat trick in a final? No one, it doesn't happen."

Who do you believe was the unsung hero on the U.S. team during the World Cup?

"I'm going to say Carli Lloyd. I know she's been in the spotlight a lot but in the end I don't think she got all the credit she deserved. In group play she may not have played as well but in the finals she was huge. Carli Lloyd won that game."

Who is your favorite player on the team or the player you look up to?

"Hope Solo no doubt. She's so raw and on the field she's mean. That's how I am on the field. I can relate to her."

How do you think the U.S. winning the World Cup will impact the sport of soccer, particularly women's soccer, in this country moving forward?

"It's going to have a huge impact. After the 1999 World Cup, the sport blew up. Now, it's not only the women's team getting attention in soccer but also the men's team. We're getting the whole country's support and parents will put their daughters and sons back into soccer. Soccer is going to go up in this country, it really is."

What made this team so likeable and easy to root for to fans, even those not usually interested in the sport?

"They were a classy team. In this tournament, there was a lot of people against them saying things about them but they used it as motivation and won the World Cup."

What is one word or phrase to describe the 2015 U.S. World Cup Championship team?

"Powerful."

#13 Anna Goebel

So. - Forward

Phoenix, Ariz.

 

What will be your lasting image or moment you'll always remember from the 2015 World Cup?

"It would be how they came back from not doing so well in the beginning to how they dominated every team in the finals. It showed how they could pick it up when they needed to."

Who do you believe was the unsung hero on the U.S. team during the World Cup?

"Becky Sauerbrunn because she was the heart of the center backs. Her and Julie Johnston held it down in the back and that's what won us the whole tournament."

Who is your favorite player on the team or the player you look up to?

"I love Abby Wambach. I know she didn't play much this year but she's always been solid and she's the heart of the team."

How do you think the U.S. winning the World Cup will impact the sport of soccer, particularly women's soccer, in this country moving forward?

"Before the World Cup, the NWSL was doing well but after the World Cup, attendance has skyrocketed. There was almost 22,000 fans at the Seattle Reign/Portland Thorns match."

What made this team so likeable and easy to root for to fans, even those not usually interested in the sport?

"They never gave up and they were fun to watch. Once they passed the group stage, they picked it up and they didn't quit."

What is one word or phrase to describe the 2015 U.S. World Cup Championship team?

"Heart."

#21 Missy Kettelkamp

RSo. - Defender

Phoenix, Ariz.

What will be your lasting image or moment you'll always remember from the 2015 World Cup?

"To be honest I'll remember the final. Four goals in 16 minutes, It's something that's never happened before. It was unbelievable."

Who do you believe was the unsung hero on the U.S. team during the World Cup?

"The backline in general but especially Becky Sauerbrunn. It was always about Julie Johnston and she was the standout, but Becky was the calm composed leader they needed in the back. Our defense was absolutely solid and they need a little more recognition."

Who is your favorite player on the team or the player you look up to?

"Becky Sauerbrunn because I love her composure and how calm she always is. She dictated everything in the backline and I look up to that as a center back."

How do you think the U.S. winning the World Cup will impact the sport of soccer, particularly women's soccer, in this country moving forward?

"I know all of the professional games have been sold out since the World Cup. After the 1999 World Cup championship, soccer boomed and I can't even imagine how club soccer and soccer in general is going to change now. This is going to change the face of women's soccer and it's so exciting."

What made this team so likeable and easy to root for to fans, even those not usually interested in the sport?

"The marketing had a lot to do with it because fans got to know the players themselves. Hearing the background story of all of these players touched home to a lot of us. We felt like one of them and it was a lot easier to root for them knowing they were like us at one point."

What is one word or phrase to describe the 2015 U.S. World Cup Championship team?

"Greatest it's ever been. This is the greatest team the U.S. has ever seen. We've had legends in the past like Mia Hamm but I can't help but think that this was the best soccer the U.S. Women's Soccer Team has ever played."

#9 Haley Wingender

Sr. - Forward

Henderson, Nev.

What will be your lasting image or moment you'll always remember from the 2015 World Cup?

"The moment would be right after Germany missed their PK (in the semifinal against the U.S.). You saw the whole game turned around and the U.S. found their stride."

Who do you believe was the unsung hero on the U.S. team during the World Cup?

"Kelley O'Hara because she came in as a sub and gave the team such a big lift. She had a key second goal in the Germany game."

Who is your favorite player on the team or the player you look up to?

"Carli Lloyd because during group play she was just kind of doing her job and didn't necessarily step out. But once it came down to it, she knew what she had to do and led the team."

How do you think the U.S. winning the World Cup will impact the sport of soccer, particularly women's soccer, in this country moving forward?

"After seeing them play and recognizing that we have a really good soccer culture here, other countries will recognize how good we are and you'll see other players come here to play and that will impact us."

What made this team so likeable and easy to root for to fans, even those not usually interested in the sport?

"They had a lot of heart and they never stopped trying. Even when they weren't playing their best, you knew they were going to give everything they could."

What is one word or phrase to describe the 2015 U.S. World Cup Championship team?

"We Believe."

Q&A with Senior Cierra Gamble
September 4, 2015 Q&A with Senior Cierra Gamble