Allie Long (pictured above right) got an opportunity to live a lifelong dream. (Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)
Two Long Island women lived and celebrated a dream in France this past summer.
Allie Long and Crystal Dunn became world champions for the first time as the United States won its second consecutive Women’s World Cup and fourth overall.
Long, who was raised in Northport, N.Y., could not believe the reaction back home. She had more than 200 emails and more than 100 text messages congratulating her.
“It’s funny because when you’re over in France, you don’t know what going on back here,” she said. “You’re in a bubble. You aren’t sure. You hear about the support and you see the social media and people expressing their support behind us, but you don’t really fully grasp it until you’re home.”
A member of a deep and talented bench, Long played only once in the competition in the 3-0 group-stage win over Chile at Parc des Princes in Paris, the home of Paris St-Germain. Long played for PSG in 2011 after Women’s Professional Soccer folded.
She made her Women’s World Cup debut, replacing Lindsey Horan in the 59th minute.
“It was a dream of mine,” Long said. “I just wanted to play. The field was perfect. I was just really excited to get out there and enjoy every minute that I had.
“We are the deepest team in the World Cup. It’s going to take every single player to win this. So, just to get everyone’s feet wet and into the game I couldn’t think of a better way to start the tournament.”
A Rockville Centre, N.Y. native, Dunn started all seven matches — seven wins — for the USA. That included the 2-0 triumph over the Netherlands in the final.
“It was incredible,” she said. “The team performance throughout the World Cup was the hardest route we ever had to go through. Limited rest, top opponents we had to get through every single round. It was just the feeling of togetherness. Once that whistle blew, we felt like we did this all together. It wasn’t 11 people; it wasn’t 14 people. It was everyone trying to push each other to be at our best in preparation for every single game.”
The former South Side High School, Rockville Centre Soccer Club and Albertson Soccer Club standout who made her reputation scoring and creating goals helped the Americans concede only three goals in seven matches. That included an epic battle against French forward Kadidiatou Diani as Dunn gave away at least four inches and heaven knows how many pounds, but no goals in a 2-1 quarterfinal win.
“Dunnie had some of the best players in the world on that right side,” head coach Jill Ellis said. “She’s done incredibly well. As good as she is, she’s still on a growth pattern. She’s world-class, but I think she would be the first to say that she wants to continue to [improve] as a world-class left back.”
Saturday: Local story No. 3