Gig Harbor High School girls soccer coach Stephanie Cox didn’t make the United States Women’s National Team final roster, but that hasn’t stopped her from watching the Women’s World Cup in Canada. Cox traveled north to Vancouver last week with some of her teammates from the Seattle Reign FC to watch the Yanks take on Nigeria in the final group of group-stage action. The U.S. came away with a 1-0 win.
Watching the team with tens of thousands of other United States supporters instead of being on the field was a bit disappointing, Cox admitted.
“(Making the World Cup roster) was my goal, after coming back from having my daughter two years ago,” Cox said. “But last October, I didn’t make the qualifying roster. That was disappointing but I was able to focus on my season with the Reign and transition into coaching.”
Reign FC teammates Megan Rapinoe, a high-energy, attacking midfielder, and world-class goalkeeper Hope Solo have already had a big impact in the group stage for the United States in games against Australia, Sweden and Nigeria. Rapinoe scored two goals against Australia and Solo has only given up one goal in three matches. Solo’s most noteworthy effort was against Australia, where she made several spectacular saves early in the match.
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“I’m really proud of them and excited for them,” Cox said. “I’ve known them for a long time. I’m happy they’re playing well individually; I know they’ll help the team and hopefully get pretty far. They’ve been really focused and really driven and they’re ready to go and win a World Cup.”
Cox will co-coach in her first season in the fall with longtime boys soccer Todd Northstrom. While Cox hasn’t been able to hold any practices yet and get a feel for her team’s talent, she was in attendance last fall when during one of Gig Harbor’s Class 4A state tournament games.
“I was really impressed with their work rate and effort,” Cox said. “Just as a collective, their team work and work ethic for each other was huge. Having players willing to work hard — that’s the best place to start. I just want to show them how to work smart and improve.”
Cox said she hopes the girls appreciate the significance and growth of the women’s sport during the women’s World Cup. Fox and Fox Sports 1 have carried all the World Cup games on its networks and the sport continues to grow in popularity, not only in the United States, but in the rest of the world, as well.
“(The high school girls) probably don’t realize what a cool thing it is,” Cox said. “I think later on they’ll kind of appreciate that. The U.S. women have done a lot to pave the way for this year and this event; for Fox to televise every game is pretty historic.”
And while they’re watching, Cox hopes her players can be inspired by the women they’re watching compete for the world’s top prize.
“I hope the girls just see strong women who are passionate and have worked hard to go after their dreams and come together a team to achieve something great.”
Cox said she might have a viewing party at her house with her team at some point during the World Cup. As for who’s going to win it all, Cox stayed loyal to the red, white and blue.
“I’ll go with the U.S.,” she said.