Members of the Bangor High School girls soccer program been have been keeping a close eye on the Women’s World Cup in France.
The players, who are participating in their summer program, have enjoyed watching the United States team and are confident it will prevail in Tuesday’s semifinal matchup against England.
The winner will play the Sweden-Netherlands victor in Sunday’s championship game.
The U.S. and England have each won all five of their matches. The Americans have outscored their opponents 22-2, and England holds an 11-1 advantage over its victims.
“It will be tight at first, but if we keep getting those through balls past their defenders, we’ll be fine,” junior Hailey McMahon said.
“It’s going to be tough. England is good, but we’re better,” freshman Emma McNeil said.
Junior Emily LeClair said it will be close early, but the U.S. will win because it moves the ball so well.
“I think it will go overtime or to a shootout,” freshman Kristen Gerrish said.
Freshman Madison Tritt predicted it will be one of the best matches of the tournament.
“The teams are pretty even. England is my second favorite team. It’s going to be fun to watch that game,” Tritt said.
The players, who believe both teams will score in the contest, have been impressed with the U.S. team.
“They’ve done a real good job scoring and moving the ball around,” freshman Hanna Osmer said.
Tritt said the U.S. has done a nice job getting the ball out wide and then cutting it back into the middle.
McMahon said she was really impressed with several dynamics.
That includes “[their] body positioning, and how they can open up and get that touch forward and down, and then go really quickly and how they can get the ball across,” she said.
Freshman Paige Inforati praised the ball movement demonstrated by the American team.
“Sometimes, if you listen closely, you can hear them communicating,” she said.
The one question mark for the United States has been 31-year-old goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who replaced longtime standout Hope Solo.
“She isn’t as good as the goalkeepers we’ve had in the past, but she’s doing a pretty good job,” said McNeil, who also is a goalkeeper.
“I’m not worried about her. She knows what she’s doing,” Tritt said.
U.S. striker-midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who has scored all four U.S. goals in the two knockout-round victories, was the choice as the favorite U.S. player among four of the seven Bangor girls.
“She’s awesome on the left wing. She can score,” Osmer said.
“She’s amazing. She can put the ball where it needs to be,” McNeil said.
LeClair is a fan of 24-year-old Rose Lavelle.
“She is so creative in the midfield,” LeClair said.
Carli Lloyd, a 36-year-old midfielder-forward, is McMahon’s favorite. Lloyd had a hat trick the Americans’ 5-2 World Cup final win over Japan in 2015.
“She is tenacious, and she has been with the team for a real long time,” McMahon said.
Gerrish is a fan of Lloyd and 29-year-old striker Alex Morgan, and Inforati likes Rapinoe and 31-year-old midfielder Tobin Heath.
The Bangor players said they also have enjoyed watching the World Cup including games involving teams, including Sweden, France and England.
“It has been entertaining seeing all the goals and the different ways they have been scored,” Gerrish said.
The players said watching the U.S. team has been inspirational and gives them even more excitement for their upcoming season at Bangor.
“It’s so much fun to all get together and watch their games and just see what they do well and what we can improve on,” LeClair said. “We look up to them so much. It’s fun to watch them.”