SACRAMENTO — From half a world away, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team has captured the hearts of the country through our TV screens.
But a group of young girls from Tracy had a much better view of the action.
“We were all on the edge of our seats jumping up and down after everything,” said Leila Ganz.
“Just the feeling you get when the team scores,” said Meredith Hagler. “That feeling will never be replicated.”
Ganz and Hagler are more than just soccer superfans. They play center back and center midfielder for the West Coast Soccer Club based in Tracy.
It all started in 2011 by club Director Troy Dayak – who had one important mission.
“Try to inspire kids to reach the highest levels of the sport,” he told FOX40.
In that spirit, Dayak brought the squad to Europe during the Women’s World Cup.
“It’s awesome because their culture is so different from the culture we’re used to. And it’s awesome being able to experience that.” Clearly these young players from Tracy are improving upon more than their soccer skills while overseas @FOX40 pic.twitter.com/w1yiBKsiHu
— Joe Khalil (@JoeKhalilTV) July 4, 2019
They also didn’t go just to watch. The teens from Tracy went an impressive 3 and 0 in friendlies against European teams from London, Paris and Lyon.
“I’m super proud,” Dayak said. “I don’t want to cry on camera but they mean a ton to me.”
While they loved watching team USA soar in the tournament and play the game they love, the girls said they also learned a lot from their international travels.
“It’s awesome because their culture is so different from the culture we’re used to, and it’s awesome being able to experience that,” said goalie Victoria Morfin.
“I got to see different cultures around the world and it’s really amplified my love for the game,” Hagler said.
After their matches coach Dayak said they even traded banners and flags and ate with their European opponents. In their own way, they became young ambassadors.
“Being able to come here and do this for our country and for our towns, and just for ourselves and our families and each other, it’s really great,” Ganz said.
The West Coast Soccer Club is leaving France Thursday morning, so they won’t be there to watch team USA play the final match in the World Cup.
Some of the players say they may host their European opponents in Tracy for a soccer tournament in the future.