PRO SOCCER | WORLD CUP

World Cup success inspires local girls soccer players

2011-07-16T00:00:00Z 2011-07-17T00:20:08Z World Cup success inspires local girls soccer playersBy David P. Funk Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
July 16, 2011 12:00 am  • 

MUNSTER | Soccer's a serious matter around the Koufos house.

So, Olivia Koufos knows just where she'll be for the Women's World Cup Championship match between the U.S. and Japan on Sunday and why.

"I'll definitely be with my family watching the game. Knowing our family, we'll all be clapping, booing and cheering together," the recent Munster grad said. "It's always fun to be around others that understand and appreciate the game as much as you do."

Olivia and her sisters, Emily and Sammi, played varsity soccer for the Mustangs this past season.

"Ever since I was young, I've wanted to be in the World Cup, and even now though I know it is not going to happen, I still enjoy watching the skills of all the professional women players," Emily said.

Sammi called the global tournament a big deal.

"The games are so exciting because its win or go home," she said. "Everything is on the line."

The game is also something that can help bring the family together.

"I love watching the World Cup because it allows my family to take a break from the craziness of life and watch a game we truly love together," Olivia said.

Olivia said she's tried to watch every televised game, only missing a few for work, even when the American team isn't playing.

The quarterfinal match against Brazil, which the U.S. team tied on a late goal by Abby Wambach and won in penalty kicks, has been the defining moment of this year's World Cup thus far.

"I thought the U.S. was going to lose, but when Abby Wambach scored the goal with barely a minute left in the game, it just reminded me of how amazing the game of soccer can be," Olivia said. "After the game I walked around my house with my hands over my head in disbelief. I kept repeating to myself, 'Amazing.'"

"As cliche as it is, all girls sports have a greater mental game than anything else. A lot of teams lose because once they get called for a foul they take themselves out of the game," Emily said. "However, the one thing I admire is the U.S.'s ability to pull through each game with a win."

Watching the game at that high a level can be a great opportunity to learn, especially for the youngest Sammi, who will be a sophomore in the fall.

"I have learned how important your first touch on the ball is and have been paying particular attention to the passing sequences," Sammi said.

While none of the girls would predict an exact score, all three are clearly decided on which team will win Sunday's match: "I'm pretty biased for this one," Emily said. "U.S., of course."

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