Sandwich’s Megan Congro centered the ball back to teammate Katie Thompson on a fast-break opportunity late in the first half of a road game against Barnstable United. Thompson controlled the pass and fired a tailing shot off her right foot that twisted to the top left corner passed the out-stretched arms of Barnstable goalie Heather Delude.
A few hours earlier Alex Morgan’s game-winning header propelled the U.S. Women’s National Team to a third-straight World Cup final. Morgan, who became the first player in women’s World Cup history to score a goal on her birthday, capped the feat with her now-viral tea-sipping celebration—complete with the raised pinky.
Thompson, who was a last-minute addition to the Sandwich squad, celebrated to a much more subdued crowd of the 11 fans in attendance at Cape Cod Academy, embracing briefly with Congro before heading back to her place on the field.
Although the celebrations may not be as talked about as the USWNT, the women of the Cape Cod Amateur Soccer League play with a similar flair and fervor.
“[Morgan’s] celebration of her pretending to sip tea was so cool to see,” Sandwich’s Sara MacFarland said. “It shows everybody how even athletes at the highest level can have fun at their sport. I think that definitely reminded me to have fun with the game, which is very true in the CCWSL.”
Sara patrolled the midfield in Sandwich’s 1-0 win against Barnstable United and just wrapped up her freshman season with the Merrimack women’s soccer program. Her twin sister, Molly, also plays on the team and for Ithaca College. More than some in-game technique like runs off the ball and creativity in the box, it’s the dedication to their craft that sticks out most about Team USA’s run to the final.
“Their dedication to their sport, not only as their profession, but at their lifestyle, inspires me to be confident in my own abilities ahead of next season,” she said.
Dedication to the game was, perhaps, the biggest takeaway from Sandwich’s game, as they—like most adult leagues, male or female—take place regardless of fanfare or accolades. They play it purely for the sake of continuing a sport they love being a part of.
It was evident on Monique Williams’ header in the box, doing her best Christen Press imitation, that clanked the post late in the second half. And it was clear on any one of Bridget Conlon’s six saves in her shutout performance, channeling Alyssa Naeher on her game-saving stop during England’s penalty kick with less than 10 minutes left.
These women love the game. They love being part of a team. And they love working at their passion.
“It’s hard work and dedication that can lead you to success,” Falmouth’s Tori Roulston said. “Talent can only take you so far.”
She may had not have cashed in on scoring opportunities in Falmouth’s 4-0 home win against Orleans on Tuesday, Roulston has seen a spark in following the USWNT mow through the competition.
“Every game I watch, I get fired up,” she said. “Watching them play and support each other is so inspiring and gets me in the mood to go run some drills in the back yard.”
As Sara put it, the buzz from the global dominance of the U.S. team has reached the freshly mowed fields on Cape Cod. During halftime of the Sandwich-Barnstable United game, the referees convened at midfield along the sidelines to talk some shop about the World Cup.
“We show up to our games talking about the USWNT and their amazing performances, which gets us excited to compete in our games,” Sara said. “The World Cup is such a wide-scale event, but it brings teams together.”
Falmouth (6-0, 18 points) currently sit atop the CCWSL standings and will host Barnstable United (1-5, 3 points) at Falmouth High School on Tuesday, July 9. Sandwich (2-4, 6 points) is third and will look to tie second-place Orleans with a win on Tuesday, July 9 at Nauset High School at 7:30 PM.