Women’s National Soccer Team Comes to Columbus
The Columbus Crew Stadium is a powerhouse in the national soccer community.
Both the US Men’s and Women’s National Teams are undefeated in Columbus.
“There’s a really long history of soccer here in Columbus. They know when they come to Columbus that they’re going to get support and have a pro-USA crowd, men’s or women’s. It’s the history that’s here. The first soccer specific stadium has created a strong foundation for Columbus to be a soccer city,” said Ashleigh Ignelzi, sideline reporter at Fox Sports Ohio.
Aaron Heifwetz, the press officer for the USWNT, said the team tries to play in Columbus every couple of years, and that the players look forward to playing at the stadium.
Ranked number one in the world by FIFA, and preparing for the 2016 Women’s World Cup, the USWNT hopes to keep their undefeated record alive in the Oct. 30 friendly match against New Zealand.
“First and foremost, appreciate the game. We play great soccer with an attacking mindset. We have some of the best goal-scorers in the world, like Abby [Wambach] and Sydney [Leroux], their talent among others. Americans love goals and exciting play. That’s a promise we can make. We will play attacking, exciting, soccer.” said Heather O’Reilly, midfielder and veteran leader of the USWNT, and three-time Gold Medalist. “Second, I think that as female athletes, we do a really good job in being accessible to fans. We have an open training session before the match, where fans get an up close and personal look at our practice and come see us in a different light the next day.”
The USWNT has team a profound history with the city and stadium; there were in Columbus for a match scheduled on September 11, 2001. The team is 4-1-0 at Columbus, including a 3-0 victory against North Korea during the 2003 Women’s World Cup, and the most recent, a 2011 victory against Japan.
“It’s amazing that cities like Columbus have paved the way for soccer specific venues,” said O’Reilly, “It makes watching the game that much better.”
The upcoming match against New Zealand is the second in a two-game set against the team, with the first match resulting in a 4-1 Victory on Oct. 27.
“As many head coaches say, there’s no such thing as a friendly match. It’s not like these athletes can turn on or off their level of competitiveness. Just because it’s a friendly, doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. Every single woman on the roster, they want to win, it doesn’t matter how many points come away or don’t, these women are competitors,” said Ignelzi.
Ignelzi has worked with the USWNT since May 2011, beginning in Columbus, then traveling with the team through the nation.
“This was my first time working with female professional athletes. I didn’t have preconceived ideas for what I was going to see, but I would say the competitiveness, physicality, aggressiveness, and desire to win exceeded every single expectation I had. I saw how hard they would battle. I saw how hard they would go after things. I was in awe. I totally love the fact that the women were out there putting their blood, sweat, and tears in it. It was amazing and inspiring,” Ignelzi said. “The overall experience was so rewarding because its great to see women not only going after their dreams but the level of desire and greatness and teamwork, which doesn’t change from male to female, it was great to see.”
Tickets are available by phone at 1-800-745-3000, at all Ticketmaster centers throughout Central Ohio, and at the Crew Stadium box office.