The Enchantment of the Women’s World Cup

By Joanna Lohman
Professional Soccer Player
Philadelphia Independence

At last, soccer players and fans can take a deep breath. The suspense of the Women’s World Cup in Germany is over, and although our country cannot celebrate a first-place victory, we can bask in the glory of what was one of the greatest tournaments in any sport.

The game got an 8.6 rating on ESPN, which is the highest rating for any World Cup game—for men or women. (For a little perspective, consider that last year’s World Series between the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants got an overnight rating of 8.4.)

Even more spectacular, the World Cup final broke the Twitter record for tweets-per-second (7,196/sec).

Who would ever have guessed that in 2011, we’d finally see this kind of following for a women’s sport?

As a professional soccer player, I can tell you that I was most compelled by the inspiring story lines.

Japan played its beautiful style of soccer and inspired an entire nation still suffering after the Tsunami and earthquake disasters in March. Brazil played with incredible flair, creativity, and unfortunate antics against the United States (how do you leave the field on a stretcher and then get off it and immediately start running?). France displayed superior skill with its intricate passes.

And, of course, the United States came to the field with its never-say-die attitude. I was especially impressed by the performances of Abby Wambach, and Hope Solo. They are an inspiration to us all.

This is why we watch sports. Not only to see the best players in the world compete on the grandest of stages, but to witness the blood, sweat, and tears that come with it.

In order to get a full, 180-degree view of the magnitude of the event, I interviewed Carmelina Moscato, a midfielder for the Canadian National Team. Canada (the host of the 2015 Women’s World Cup) was one of the most anticipated teams to come into the World Cup, only to lose all three of their round-robin games. I wanted to get a sense of how it felt to have so much hype going in and so much disappointment going out. Scroll down for more.


Q&A with CARMELINA MOSCATO

Joanna Lohman: Canada played the opening game against the home country of Germany. What was the atmosphere like in the 75,000 seat, sold-out stadium?

Carmelina Moscato: The stadiums in Germany were one of the most impressive parts of this prestigious and professionally run tournament. The historic Olympiastadion in Berlin was no different. Walking into a stadium so rich in story and culture was an absolute honor. The crowd at the opener was perfect—engaged and enthusiastic. I don’t believe it could have been a more inspirational or motivational set-up.

Joanna Lohman: Having spent months in a residency camp in Rome prior to the World Cup, do you think that affected the performance of the team?

Carmelina Moscato: I am a big believer that for anyone or anything to succeed, you need a balanced approach. Looking back with the luxury of hindsight, I would say that I completely understand why we would take the residency approach; but it may not have benefited us fully. For starters, it must be said that as an up-and-coming soccer nation, we have a long way to go to be at the top.

Therefore we needed the pure hours that residency provided us. Taking other things into consideration, however—notably that Rome is not our home or where we go to feel a sense of comfort—more mental breaks would have been useful. Ways for us to continue training, but also have some freedoms that the players naturally do not have in camp. Had there been more breaks, some people may even have chosen to fly home to recharge their batteries … but what do I know?

Joanna Lohman: Were you impressed with the overall level of play? What countries surprised you?

Carmelina Moscato: I was extremely impressed at the increased level of technical and tactical improvements made by essentially every country at the tournament. Traditionally weaker nations stepped up to the table and made every game interesting. There weren’t as many, if any, sure wins, which makes the game more exciting, purer. This is what the game is about, closing these gaps between nations so that the game is played to the highest standard. The countries that surprised me the most were Nigeria, Australia, and Equatorial Guinea.

Joanna Lohman: Having underperformed as a country, what type of response are you getting from your fans back home?

Carmelina Moscato: Our response has been mixed to be honest. You have the people who will always believe in us as players and as a team, and they understand we have a lot left in us for the future. Then you have people who have jumped on the bandwagon only recently and our World Cup losses only confirmed any lack of belief they had in the first place. I think the final type of response is the “no response” because a lot of people don’t know what to say!

Joanna Lohman: The final of the WWC got amazing ratings; what did you think of the Japanese victory?

Carmelina Moscato: Japan’s victory was a true testament to perseverance and the ability of a nation to come together to accomplish powerful things. Although I will always cheer for a North American neighbor when we’re not in a match, I was happy to see the “underdog” win in a fairly played, well-played match of soccer. It was the kind of final you hope for, with all the twists and turns, and players playing with all their heart. What that win did for the mourning country of Japan is just too powerful to put into words. The world should be proud of that Japanese team.


About Joanna Lohman

Professional soccer player Joanna Lohman has played in the WUSA Festivals in both Minneapolis and Los Angeles in 2004, and was a member of the 2005 Freedom Reserves. She trained with USWNT during the 2004 Olympic Residency Training Camp, was a member of U21 U.S. national team from 2000-2005, captaining the squad from 2003-2004. She helped lead her U21 team to three Nordic Cup championships, earning MVP honors in 2002.

In college at Penn State, she scored 19 goals and had six assists her senior season, finishing her career at No. 5 in all-time goals scored (41), No. 2 in assists (37), No. 4 in points (114), and first with eight game-winning goals.

Among other honors, she was named Pennsylvania’s NCAA Woman of the Year in 2004, was a two-time M.A.C. Hermann Trophy finalist (2002-2003), a two-time Honda Sports Award Finalist (2002-2003), and a finalist for the Collegiate Women’s Sports Award for Women’s Soccer in 2003.

She was also a Big Ten Player of the Year in 2003, first four-time First Team All-Big Ten selection in Penn State history (2000-03), a three-time NSCAA All-American selection (2001-03), and a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-American (2001-03), one of three recipients of Penn State’s Outstanding Senior Athlete Award. She was also the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2000.

Originally from Washington, DC, Lohman currently lives outside Philadelphia while she plays for the Philadelphia Independence soccer team.