High-spirited soccer fans, many with their families, jammed the Gunpowder Lodge restaurant and bar on U.S. 1 Sunday to watch the Women's World Cup final that pitted the U.S. team against Japan.

The Kingsville establishment overlooking the Big Gunpowder Falls is somewhat of a soccer mecca for area fans.

"I guess we have about 250 guests here today," said David Santoro, restaurant manager.

Enthusiasm and hopes were high for a replay of the 1999 win, with many customers and staff dressed in red, white and blue.

Collin McCann, 14, who lives in Towson, knows about the pressure that goalkeeper Hope Solo was feeling. He plays the same position for a club soccer team, Pipeline, that is made up of players from Parkville and Towson.

"I think we're pretty much dominating the game," McCann, who will be a freshman this fall at Calvert Hall College High School, said early in the game. "Our goalkeeper is the best in the world."

There was a face-painting area where an artist painted patrons' faces patriotic colors. One child's face had "U.S.A." on one cheek, while on the other was written "Rocks." American flags were plentiful and freely waved. Derek Woodward, one of the Gunpowder Lodge's bartenders, was dressed like Uncle Sam including a striped red, white and blue top hat.

The Gunpowder Lodge is the kind of place where guests stand for the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner," with many removing their baseball caps.

Seven minutes and 57 seconds into the game, and it appeared that the U.S. team had scored a goal. The place exploded as guests yelled, pounded tables and clapped.

Many took up the chant of "U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.," which they repeated over and over.

One spectator was heard calling out over the crowd for someone to please hit him in his chest to start his heart beating again.

The premature celebration proved to be just that, and there was no score.

At halftime, the game was scoreless, but that was soon to change when forward Alex Morgan scored for the U.S. team. But when Japan scored, the crowd roared a disapproving "Oh, no!"

When the game went into extra time, McCann wasn't worried.

"We have the best team in the world and I'm confident," he said.

Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." roared from loudspeakers to celebrate when Abby Wambach scored a goal to make it 2-1.

Confidence was riding high among the Gunpowder's clientele, which saw victory within reach until the Japanese team came from behind and went on to win the game 3-1 in a penalty shootout.

A roar of disappointment raced through the Gunpowder as patrons tried to figure out just what went wrong.

"We just couldn't put them away," McCann said.

Savannah Merryman, 15, a student at the Institute of Notre Dame who plays for Parkville United, was shocked by the outcome.

"We should have won it. They should have had it," she said.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com