LYON, France — The US is now headed to the World Cup final, a third time in the row for the women’s soccer team. And goalie Alyssa Naeher played a big role in that.
The Connecticut native had one of the most suspenseful moments of the World Cup, when she saved a penalty kick during the semi-finals match against England. Here’s what else you should know about her the star keeper:
She was born on April 20, 1988, grew up in Stratford, and attended Christian Heritage School in Trumbull, where they’ve been following her soccer career closely. Naeher is appearing in her first World Cup. The Penn State University alum plays on the Chicago Red Stars club.
She has a twin sister
When she was younger, Naeher’s twin Amanda accidentally slammed her hand in a car door. Naeher’s hand turned black and blue and her her nails fell off.
“Good thing you don’t use your hands in soccer,” Amanda said while consoling her sister.
Naeher would later go on to play the one position in soccer that DOES rely on you using your hands.
In 2014, she made 106 saves in 24 games
That was a record, by the way. Naeher was then awarded the 2014 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year award. She later earned a spot on the 2015 World Cup team.
The Americans face a Dutch team on the rise. After reaching the knockout round in only its first World Cup four years ago in Canada, the team won the European Championship for the Netherlands’ first major trophy. Dating back to the Euros, the Dutch have won 12 straight games in major tournaments.
But the top-ranked Americans pose a considerable challenge for the eighth-ranked Dutch. The United States has won a record 11 straight World Cup matches dating back to 2015 in Canada, surpassing Norway’s record from 1995-99. The team has also been undefeated in a record 16 World Cup matches, surpassing Germany’s run between 2003 and 2007.
Alex Morgan leads the team, and the Golden Boot race, with six goals. Megan Rapinoe has five, including four in the knockout round, but she did not play against England because of a minor hamstring issue. She said she expects to be ready for Sunday’s match. Ellis said no one has been ruled out.
“I think we’ve come from a tough road in terms of the teams we’ve played to get to this point, so for sure they’re battle tested. But what I love about this group is that they’re locked in and they’re still hungry,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said.
Connecticut Watch Parties
You can see all the action on FOX61. Pre-game coverage at 10am, and the match starts at 11am. Family and friends of Alyssa Naeher will gather at Elim Park retirement community in Cheshire, where Naeher’s grandmother lives, to watch the game. And plenty of other spots are hosting watch parties, if you want to watch in a more festive atmosphere than your home. Here are a few:
- The Tavern Downtown in Hartford
- The Regal Beagle in New Haven
- TK’s American Cafe in Danbury
- Simsbury High School (hosted by SimsburySoccer.org)
- Irish Public House in Hartford
- Five Churches Brewery in New Britain
- Forest City Brewing in Middletown
(From AP, CNN wire, and staff reports)