Alyssa Naeher and Ali Krieger are world champions again.
Both Penn State women’s soccer alumnae on the United States Women’s National Team featured in the final match of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, which ended in a 2-0 victory for the Americans over the Netherlands. Naeher made her seventh start and kept her fourth clean sheet of the World Cup, and Ali Krieger made her third appearance of the competition at right back.
Despite facing off against a potent Dutch attack, Naeher wasn’t all that busy in the final. She didn’t make a save until the 77th minute, but she came up with a huge clearance in the 26th minute that prevented the Dutch from getting a 1-on-1 look at goal. The Penn Stater came off her line to kick the ball away from danger as Lineth Beerensteyn ran towards goal to get on the end of Vivianne Miedema’s through ball.
Naeher’s first and only save of the match came after Beerensteyn cut towards goal in front of Krieger. The Dutch forward fired a powerful shot on goal, but the goalkeeper easily collected it and stopped the attack. Naeher was also tested by a Sherida Spitse free kick with 10 minutes to play, but it bent just wide of the target and went out of play for a goal kick.
Meanwhile, Ali Krieger checked into the match as a substitute at the start of the second half. Starting right back Kelley O’Hara picked up a knock after a hard collision with a Dutch player, which opened the door for Krieger to make her third appearance of this year’s World Cup. The former Penn State defender put in a professional, steady performance, which is exactly what head coach Jill Ellis was looking for after O’Hara’s injury.
Like most cup finals, Sunday’s match didn’t get off to the most lively start as both sides felt each other out and settled into the contest. The USWNT won a free kick in the 10th minute after Spitse was booked for a hard foul on Rose Lavelle, but Tobin Heath’s delivery was easily dispatched by the Dutch defense.
The first 27 minutes of the match passed without a shot by either side before Julie Ertz finally put the ball on the Dutch goal. Netherlands goalkeeper Sari van Veenendal parried Ertz’s volley from inside the box away from danger. That was one of van Veenendal’s four saves in the first half, which ended in a 0-0 deadlock.
VAR granted the USWNT a penalty in the 60th minute after Dutch defender Stefanie van der Gragt fouled Alex Morgan with a high boot, and captain Megan Rapinoe made no mistake with the ensuing spot kick and gave her side a 1-0 lead. Rose Lavelle put the game away with a tidy finish after an excellent solo run right through the heart of Holland’s defense in the 70th minute.
Naeher and Krieger each picked up their second World Cup winners’ medal on Sunday afternoon in Lyon. Both players were named to the USWNT’s 23-player squad for the 2015 World Cup, which ended with a 5-2 American victory over Japan in the final. Krieger was the first-choice right back for the Americans, and Naeher was Hope Solo’s backup goalkeeper throughout the 2015 tournament.