Liberty High School graduate Shea Groom sat on the patio of Cleaver & Cork in the Power & Light District on Sunday night still shocked that she was watching four of her FC Kansas City teammates play in the Women’s World Cup after watching their previous six games.
Two hours later, the feeling was even more surreal as she saw Becky Sauerbrunn, Lauren Holiday, Amy Rodriguez and Heather O’Reilly, along with the rest of the U.S. women’s national team, rout Japan 5-2 in the championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, to win an unprecedented third World Cup title.
Groom, along with teammates Kaysie Clark, Jen Buczkowski and Domi Richardson, were headliners of the watch party hosted by FC Kansas City, Sporting Kansas City and WIN for KC in the Power & Light District as thousands of Kansas City residents witnessed the team win its first title since 1999 and avenge an overtime penalty kick loss to Japan from the 2011 World Cup. The United States came back to beat Japan to win gold in the 2012 Olympics.
“It was amazing to see Becky hold down the backline and for Lauren to finally get a goal,” Groom said. “It was pretty special for Kansas City and the rest of the girls because the team had to come a long way to get there, and I know each and every one of them played a huge role.”
The United States took an early and commanding lead with a pair of goals from Carli Lloyd in the third and fifth minutes of the game. FC Kansas City’s Holiday added another in the 14th and Lloyd completed a hat trick in the 16th to push the lead to 4-0.
Japan scored once before the break and once after before Tobin Heath sealed the game in the 54th minute with the United States’ final goal.
Lloyd was awarded the Golden Ball as the most outstanding player of the tournament after scoring six goals in the run to the title. She had the fastest hat trick in World Cup history for men or women. Goalkeeper Hope Solo won Golden Glove award allowing just three goals in the same span with a streak of 540 shutout minutes in the mix.
It was the highest scoring Women’s World Cup final in history.
“Most of the talk has been about the 99ers, so for them to set that goal and stick to it no matter who argued and who said they couldn’t do it and to finish the tournament as strong as they did,” Groom said. “As a soccer fan you can’t be any happier than your team bringing it home.”
WIN for KC president Lisa Diven applauded the near-capacity crowd in the KC Live! Block as the latest sign of women’s sports progress in the city.
She was a part of each of the collaboration watch parties that were held at Power & Light or Sporting Park.
“This is absolutely tremendous the way that Kansas City has come out to support women’s soccer; it is incredible,” Diven said. “I think it shows that all the work people are doing to give women’s sports the momentum and give them a chance is working. It is exciting and the women today were putting on a good show.”
Diven hopes the support trickles down to the youth sports she works with through WIN for KC’s partnerships with FC Kansas City and from the large turnouts for watch parties like Sunday’s.
“Having people watching and supporting these role models on the international stage gets more girls involved in sports and that is all we can ask for,” Diven said.