Kim Wyant (left), pictured with Peter Collins, the late president of the Long Island Junior Soccer League, made several key saves in the upset. (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
By Michael Lewis
UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Long Island Lady Riders captain and defender Jennifer Bauman has played with some of the best amateur women’s teams in the country and for two W-League championships.
Yet, she will treasure a game that won’t be officially recorded as a league win. It will be in her heart and mind forever.
Slightly more than a week before the kickoff of the Women’s World Cup, the Lady Riders stunned the soccer world by pulling off a major upset, surprising the Brazilian women’s national team, 2-0, on June 10.
“I’m pretty ecstatic,” Bauman said. “This is the greatest accomplishment of my career. The other championships were great. We just beat the No. 5 team in the world.”
The victory even left Riders own Chuck Jacob stunned. “Frankly, it will take a while to sink in,” he said.
“This ranks with the national championships because to beat a World Cup team in its form shows how far women’s soccer in this country has come.”
Jacob said that he would look back at beating “the Brazilian national team as an all-time memory.”
That was before Brazil finished a strong third in the World Cup, losing to the U.S. in the semifinals, 2-0. It might even be sweeter today.
But it was more than sweet enough during that balmy evening before a crowd of 1,642 at the Mitchel Athletic Complex.
The Lady Riders road goals by Margaret Tietjen and Cristin Burtis to victory. They took advantage of lackluster defending and passing by the Brazilians and literally learn on their foes when they had the ball at midfield. The Brazilians must have coughed up the ball at least two dozen times to a tenacious team defense.
“I’m a little shocked at the way we composed ourselves,” Tietjen said. “We came out strong. We kept them on their heels a bit. I don’t think they expected the caliber of our play.”
Added Bauman: We didn’t allow them to play their game.”
With the game barely three minutes old, The Riders scored when Tietjen took advantage of a Brazilian defensive mix-up and knocked the ball into the net from one yard out on the left side.
In the 35th minute, Brazilian defender Nene lackadaisically headed the ball back to her goal. Burtis slotted it home for a 2-0 lead.
Still, there was 55 minutes and plenty of time for Brazil to come back. After all, Brazil had Sissi, the best women’s free-kick specialist in the world.
But the Lady Riders had Kim Wyant, a former U.S. national team goalkeeper. During a seven-minute span in the second half, Wyant was outstanding. She made three key saves en route to a total of six – once knocking a shot out of bounds with both hands to deny the visitors.
Perhaps her most memorable save was on a 24-yard shot by Suzana that she barely tipped over the crossbar in the 72nd minute.
“I told our team that we weren’t a W-League team today, but an international team,” Lady Riders head coach Dennis McGovern said. “This is amazing. We have struggled a bit this year. If we can’t build on this …”
McGovern’s voice tailed off.
Bauman understood the significance of the win as a confidence booster.
“If we can beat Brazil, we can win the national championship,” she said.