The U.S. women’s national soccer team added to its already-impressive resume this past weekend when it placed first at the World Cup for the fourth time.
Local soccer fans Miguel Larranaga, Jocelyn Lopez and Siriana Gudino took a great deal of pleasure in seeing the U.S. shut out the Netherlands 2-0 in the finals on Sunday in France.
“It’s amazing to win back-to-back World Cups,” Larranaga said. “Not a lot of teams in any sport win back-to-back world titles. It’s not easy. You have to be the best of the best to do it.”
“It’s very cool to see them make history,” Gudino said. “The only other women’s team to do that was Germany.
Larranaga, head coach of Central Valley High School’s varsity girls soccer program, watched the World Cup finals with his two daughters.
Edith (class of 2019) and Miranda (senior) both played soccer together at Ceres High School, which compiled a 15-8-2 overall record, placed second in the Western Athletic Conference (10-3-1) and advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the fifth straight year this past winter.
The Bulldogs also secured their first-ever postseason victory.
“My kids followed the World Cup from beginning to end,” Larranaga said. “They woke me up early to watch the title game. That’s our sport. That’s what we love.”
Gudino’s living room was packed with more than a dozen family members, including her parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews and nieces.
“They all decided to wake up at 7:30 in the morning to come over,” stated Gudino, a second-team all-WAC goalkeeper during her junior year at Ceres High. “One of my uncles said it was his first time watching a women’s sport. He was really surprised to see how many fans were into the game.”
Lopez, a standout striker who helped lead Central Valley’s varsity girls soccer team to its fourth consecutive conference title during the 2018-19 school year, was impressed by the U.S.’ unselfish play.
“A big thing for U.S. is chemistry,” said Lopez, a two-time league MVP who totaled 96 goals and 45 assists at the prep level and will continue her playing career at Stanislaus State. “You can tell they’re really comfortable playing together.”
U.S. won the World Cup for a record fourth time (2019, 2015, 1999, 1991).
“They’re a great influence,” Gudino said. “They work hard when nobody else is watching. They have a passion for the sport. That’s what you need if you want to have a career playing soccer.”
“I started watching the national team more when I was 9 or 10,” Lopez said. “It’s always fun seeing them play.”
About 14 million people watched the World Cup title game on TV in the U.S. according to Nielsen ratings.
“It was a great game,” Larranaga said. “U.S. proved it has the best women players in the world. It motivates girls big time.”
“The program keeps getting stronger and stronger,” Lopez said.
“Women’s soccer is growing,” Gudino said.