Football Ferns vibe after emotional win for New Zealand at Women's World Cup
Thu, Jul 20, 2023
Soccer News (AP)
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) - The Football Ferns were vibing to the music on the team bus as it pulled away after New Zealand's first-ever Women's World Cup victory. The blasting song, appropriately enough, was Outkast's "The Way You Move."
The Ferns certainly appear to be on the move.
With a 1-0 victory over Group A favorites Norway secured, New Zealand is in good position to advance to the knockout stage - a massive achievement for the tournament co-hosts, who had never won a match at the World Cup before Thursday night.Other news Americans descend on New Zealand to cheer for the US women's soccer team An estimated 20,000 Americans are coming to New Zealand for the Women's World Cup and many have arrived in the days before the U.S. women's team plays its opener against Vietnam on Saturday. New Zealand opens Women's World Cup with a 1-0 upset over Norway on emotional 1st day in host nation Hannah Wilkinson has scored to open the second half and New Zealand has upset Norway 1-0 for its first-ever win at the Women's World Cup just hours after a shooting in downtown Auckland that shocked the host nation. Women's World Cup opening ceremony focused on First Nations The Women's World Cup has opened with an elaborate greeting from the Maori people of New Zealand and the First Nations people of Australia. Women's World Cup security heightened ahead of opening match following deadly shooting in Auckland Security was heightened ahead of Thursday night's opening Women's World Cup game after a gunman killed two people at a downtown construction site in Auckland.
It was a monumental victory for women's soccer in a nation that is better known for it's love of rugby. More than 42,000 fans were at the game, making it the biggest crowd ever for a men's or women's soccer match in New Zealand.
"To see the way we performed and fought, the resilience of the this team, how gritty the effort, the sprinting. Everything. That is the kind of performance we wanted to show. That's who we are," captain Ali Riley said. "And that is how we can inspire young girls. That is how we can make our nation proud and hopefully change the sporting culture in this country."
New Zealand now turns to a match Tuesday against tournament rookies the Philippines in Wellington. Norway plays Switzerland in Hamilton.
"This is just the beginning," coach Jitka Klimkova said. "If we will have this crowd behind us every time we step up on the field, that's what we need, really that push from them."
The Ferns, who made the field as hosts with Australia, had won just one of their last 11 matches heading into the World Cup. Every tournament host before them had advanced out of its group - so the pressure was on.
Hannah Wilkinson scored in the opening minutes of the second half, and that was enough for the win. Wilkinson relentlessly pressured the Norwegians, winners of the 1995 World Cup, and the the Ferns' defense ultimately held.
Afterward, New Zealand Prime minister Chris Hipkins visited the team locker room to congratulate the players.
"I think with the performance, we deserved it," said Riley, who plays professionally for Angel City in Los Angeles. "I know we came into this as underdogs. I know there was a lot of doubt, a lot of articles being written saying how many times we haven't won a game. But we believed in ourselves the whole time."
But the mood was somewhat bittersweet. Hours before the opening match, New Zealand was shaken by a rare fatal shooting in downtown Auckland. Two people were killed by a gunman who opened fire on a construction site near Norway's team hotel. The assailant died after a shootout with police.
After an opening ceremony that honored New Zealand's Indigenous heritage, there was a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting.
"It wasn't just about winning the game. This is about inspiring our entire country. With what happened this morning, trying to do something positive today and honor the first responders," Riley said after the match. " That's a lot. And it felt like we did it. I think we did it."
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