Northwestern Press

Wednesday, November 20, 2019
contributed photo Recent Northwestern Lehigh graduates Sarah Segan, Lexi Gawelko, Angela Motolese and Sabrina Mertz made a trip to Canada to see the Women's FIFA World Cup. contributed photo Recent Northwestern Lehigh graduates Sarah Segan, Lexi Gawelko, Angela Motolese and Sabrina Mertz made a trip to Canada to see the Women's FIFA World Cup.

Chance of a lifetime

Thursday, July 16, 2015 by TODD KRESS tkress@tnonline.com in Sports

Northwestern soccer players enjoy World Cup trip

Millions of people watched the Women's FIFA World Cup from their own homes.

Thousands of others had the opportunity to watch the games from celebratory events in the Lehigh Valley, such as the Soccerfest and Viewing Party at Bethlehem's SteelStacks.

But only a select few had the chance to watch a game from that tournament live in the host country of Canada.

Northwestern's Alexis Gawelko, Angela Motolese, Sabrina Mertz and Sarah Segan, who played for the league and district champion Tigers girls team last fall, were four of the thousands of USA fans packed inside Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Canada, who watched the Americans defeat Germany 2-0 in the semifinal round.

"The place was filled with U.S. fans," Segan said. "It was so fun. We are all really close, so it was really a fun experience."

Watching a World Cup game is something soccer fans all over the world dream. That was the same for the four recent Northwestern graduates.

When the opportunity presented itself from one of the girls' parents, they jumped on the chance to represent their home country over 400 miles north of their hometown.

"My mom was looking at it for a while back, and then it kind of like went to the back burner and stuff," Mertz said. "Once it came up, the opportunity presented itself and we were able to just go. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing."

"It was crazy," Segan said. "It was so last minute. We basically came up with the whole plan the week before. It was awesome. We had talked about it as soon as we heard the World Cup would be in Canada, but we thought it would be a long shot."

What made the trip even more spectacular was the matchup of two of the top-ranked teams in the world meeting on the same field. Germany entered the contest as the No. 1 team.

"It was No. 1 vs. No. 2, and you don't see that very often," Segan said. "We've seen a game before when they were at the Concacaf Gold Cup and when they played in the (Philadelphia) Union's stadium. But it didn't compare to a World Cup setting. This was something completely different."

Days after shutting out Germany, the United States defeated Japan in the final, 5-2.

The group of girls wasn't able to see the championship game in person, but it was still a memorable experience they'll take with them for the rest of their lives.

"It's definitely something we can check off our bucket list," Mertz said. "That's the thing you look forward to as a soccer player.

"The World Cup is so huge, and women's soccer is becoming more and more prominent. More people are watching it now."

Besides that semifinals victory over Germany, the girls showed their support in numerous other U.S. tournament games at SteelStacks along with thousands of others dressed in red, white and blue.

"You see how many people went to SteelStacks to support it," Mertz said. "For them to win that World Cup, that's huge for women's soccer."