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The Student News Site of Encinal High School

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The Student News Site of Encinal High School

Horizon News

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From the Stands: Attending the Women’s World Cup

Sweden+v.+Italy+on+July+29.
Inky Arneson
Sweden v. Italy on July 29.

The whistle blows; five minutes to go. The score is tied, nil-nil. Five minutes and the United States Women’s National Team advances to the knockout stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. But one goal in Portugal’s favor and the defending champions could find themselves eliminated, losing their chance at a third World Cup title in a row.

You’re on the edge of your seat – literally, as you struggle to peer over the plastic torch in the arm of the Statue of Liberty in front of you, her other hand clenching the elbow of a Ruth Bader Ginsburg doppelganger. As the Portuguese player drops her arm to signal her teammates, Eden Park Stadium falls quiet, no less than 47,000 attendees holding one huge, collective breath.

When I first heard that I might be flying to New Zealand to see the US and Sweden play (separately) in the group stages of the World Cup, I don’t think I really knew what to expect. As someone who is familiar with soccer but doesn’t necessarily watch a lot of sports, I went into it knowing very little about the tournament other than the fact that both the teams I was going to see were both extremely skilled and high-ranked. So in that sense, I knew that it was going to be exciting, but I underestimated exactly how much.

Watching from the stands really gave me a better sense of how impressive the skill of each athlete is. It’s hard to tell just how large the field is until it’s right in front of you, and you can barely make out the people on the other side of the stadium. Seeing the players traverse back and forth across this field, creating plays and opportunities and counterattacks with practiced ease is just amazing. I know people have a tendency to compare men’s and women’s sports, placing one over the other, but the fact that anyone is able to pull off these seemingly tremendous feats is something worth celebrating in their own right, rather than trying to pit them against each other.

The World Cup is truly a marvelous thing, not only to watch some of the greatest athletes in the world compete for 90 tense, nerve-wracking minutes, but also to witness the unspoken pact of unity connecting fans from all over the globe. From hearing the roar of thousands singing along to “Sweet Caroline” at halftime to the blur of movement as bodies leap out of seats when the ball hits the net, the energy of soccer fans is unrivaled. Quite honestly, it’s electrifying, and it’s something I don’t think anyone is able to fully understand until they have been to a game.

Although attending the game in person may be a more engaging experience, it’s still plenty exciting from the comfort of your own home as well. I’ll never forget the tension as I sat in front of the TV, anxiously awaiting the results of the video replay technology, and the moments of shock soon after, when the replay was shown and we learned that Lina Hurtig’s penalty kick had gone over the goal line just enough to knock the US out of the tournament. 

Though I’m disappointed that we won’t get to see the USWNT make history as the first ever team across both men’s and women’s soccer to win three World Cups in a row, I’m excited to follow the rest of the journey to see who takes home the 2023 Women’s World Cup title, and I invite my fellow soccer fans to tune in with me as we celebrate this beautiful game together.

About the Contributor
Emilia Arneson is a second-year publications member and part of the class of 2025. She joined Horizon for the experience and stayed for the memories and community. Emilia is a member of the Drama Club and a lifelong actor, as well as President of the Encinal Gender and Sexuality Association. In her free time, she enjoys painting, drawing, and playing board games.
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