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Soccer: Interest from Carroll County players, coaches growing as Women's World Cup nears its end

Soccer: Interest from Carroll County players, coaches growing as Women's World Cup nears its end
United States forward Megan Rapinoe is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal during the France 2019 Women's World Cup round of 16 match between Spain and USA, on June 24, 2019, at the Auguste-Delaune stadium in Reims, France. (FRANCK FIFE / AFP/Getty Images)

Ava Boussy and her family were on vacation in Ocean City the last time a Women’s World Cup took place, and the recent Westminster High School graduate said she and her father made plenty of time to watch the games — even if that meant ditching the beach to find a TV for a few hours.

Boussy hasn’t been as lucky this time around, not with work preventing her from catching the world’s best players competing against each other on their sport’s biggest stage. But the all-county standout forward said she thinks the Women’s World Cup draws more than just the occasional soccer fan, and she’s hopeful the United States women’s national team will be playing for a championship next week.

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“My family follows it as much as we can,” said Boussy, who will be rooting for Team USA in Friday’s quarterfinal match against host France. “I took an internship this summer, so I’ve missed quite a few games and I’m about to miss the one Friday because I’m working. But I am free for the semis and the finals, so fingers crossed that the U.S. makes it through so I can see them play once. I’m hoping they make it through Friday.”

Boussy, who had five goals and one assist for Westminster last season, said she’s been playing competitive soccer for the better part of a decade. She watched in 2015 when the U.S. claimed its third World Cup title by beating Japan 5-2 in Vancouver, Canada. And by playing club and eventually high school soccer, Boussy said being able to see the best international talent showcase their skills helped her become a better player.

“Any games I’m home for … I would watch the weird ones where there was 10 people [in attendance], just to kind of get some more soccer in,” Boussy said. “I think playing at a more competitive level changed the way I watched the game. Little movements, things like that, make more sense to me. Or I’d pick up things and be like, ‘Oh, that’s really neat. I want to take that home and try that, or try that move and learn something like that.’”

Longtime Century girls soccer coach Sara Figuly said the Knights have gathered to watch big-time international games in the past, and she’s sure many of her players are following the World Cup action this year. Figuly said the team will use replays of games to learn strategies, study and install them in the future.

“Different highlights and formations and things like that … we always pull that up and show them those types of things,” Figuly said. “This is the highest level of soccer that you can get to.”

South Carroll coach Andrew Isacco said he’s into the World Cup and watches as much as he can, and the players in his program, like Boussy, are paying close attention to the results.

The United States’ 13-0 win over Thailand in Group Play garnered its share of attention — the players drew plenty of criticism for perhaps enjoying the rout too much, pouring in goals and celebrating many of the scores with gusto. But Figuly and Isacco said realizing that scoring differential can determine which teams advance into the “knockout” rounds during international play, should ease some of tension surrounding that blowout.

Westminster's Ava Boussy (19) celebrates after she scored against Winters Mill during the second half of their game in Westminster on Oct. 5, 2017.
Westminster's Ava Boussy (19) celebrates after she scored against Winters Mill during the second half of their game in Westminster on Oct. 5, 2017. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Boussy agreed.

“I don’t think we should have stopped scoring,” she said. “I think at some point it’s almost ruder to pass the ball around and not give 100%. I do think it’s cool that Alex Morgan is out breaking records and the U.S. is breaking records.”

Added Figuly: “What, do you expect people not to celebrate when they score a goal? Some of those girls scored, I think, for the first time ever. That might be their only goal in a World Cup. And vice versa, if someone was playing against us. … From a learning experience, If I’m getting beat 13-0, I’m embarrassed and my team needs to do something different.”

Boussy is headed to Washington and Lee University in the fall for soccer, and said her college group chat has been heavy on soccer in the last few weeks. Same goes with interaction between Boussy and her Freedom United club teammates, whether it be on social media or out and about.

County soccer players and coaches together seem to admire the intensity with which the international teams play, the U.S. in particular, and they hope it carries over to their squads. Plus, it’s fun to have their sport in the spotlight.

“For as popular as we are right now, we don’t have as many World Cup wins as we could,” Boussy said. “It’s definitely nice to see that’s the top level of play for women in the world. That’s where the best are. It’s gives us a bunch of great role models available for younger kids.”

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