HAGERSTOWN —They were bunched up in booths, eating food, chatting and checking on the game that appeared on big screens and small TV screens at each of the restaurant booths.
Occasionally, the volume of chatting turned into a crescendo of anticipation and chants of “USA” as a member of the U.S. Women’s World Cup team appeared close to scoring a goal.
Then there was a collective “ah” and the young girls went back to laughing, chatting and waiting for the next scoring opportunity or save by U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo.
“I think this is a great opportunity to get all of these girls that play soccer in Hagerstown to see that someday this could be them,” said Christopher Dao, who coaches a Hagerstown Area Youth Soccer League (HAYSL) U-14 girls team. Dao helped organized the Women’s World Cup final-watching party at The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille on Shank Farm Way in Hagerstown’s North End.
More than 50 people were sitting in the booths where the HAYSL group was centered, but many others in the restaurant also were watching the game, which took place more than 4,000 miles away in Frankfurt, Germany.
Japan upset the U.S. 3-1 in a penalty shootout after the game was tied 2-2.
“It would have been great to see (the U.S.) win, but even though they lost, it was nice to spend that time together as the HAYSL family,” HAYSL Regional Commissioner Lynn Bowers said. Bowers said HAYSL girls in particular, who accounted for many of the attendees, are a “very tight” group.
“They got the whole sisterly bond thing going on,” Bowers said in a phone interview after the game.
Hoping to join that fun this fall is Jaima Benner, 6, of Hagerstown. Her mother, April Benner, signed Jaima up during the event, which also served as an opportunity to register for the league.
“There’s been such a soccer craze this summer that I thought we’d give it a try,” April Benner said.
Jaima said she was happy she was going to get the opportunity to play this fall.
Asked what she liked about soccer, Jaima said, “That you have to kick and that’s one of the things I like to do.”
Carly Marcus, 11, of Smithsburg, was watching the game with her family, including younger sister, Summer, 8.
Like many of the girls at the party, Carly is a Solo fan and a fellow goalkeeper.
Wearing a Mia Hamm shirt, Carly said she also likes the retired player who was on the 1999 U.S. team that won the World Cup.