One such player who certainly opened some eyes was midfield Lori Chalupny, a 23-year-old native of St. Louis who plied her trade with a women’s collegiate soccer powerhouse – University of North Carolina - before playing alongside the likes of Kristine Lilly, Abby Wambach and Linsday Tarpley on the Greatest Team You’ve Never Heard Of.
In fact, the former Tar Heel wasted no time in recording her first World Cup goal against Nigeria – her 1st minute goal was the second quickest in Women’s World Cup history. Altogether, she scored two goals during her first Women’s World Cup tournament, in addition to making a name for herself on the game’s brightest stage.
Revsnet’s Brian O’Connell caught up with Lori shortly after her breakthrough performance last month in China.
Brian: With this being your first World Cup, what were your emotions like, not only arriving in China, but in the hours leading up to the match vs. North Korea?
Lori: “Being my first World Cup game, there were a lot of nerves and a lot of excitement leading up to the North Korea game. I really just tried to focus on the things that I needed to do in the game and the things the coaching staff outlined for the team. Standing on the field for the National Anthems was probably the most nerve-racking time, but once the whistle blew, the nerves went away and I could just play like normal.”
Brian: Against Nigeria, you scored that first goal right off the bat. First of all, what was going through your head right after the ball found the back of the net? Secondly, did you ever expect to score so quickly in any match, never mind a World Cup match?
Lori: “Well during the game, I didn't even realize how quickly we scored so that wasn't even a thought in my mind. It felt really good to get one for the team and it was really nice to have the early lead to work with. That always helps in a game of that magnitude.”
Brian: After the Group stage, your first opponent was England, and early on, it appeared that the game may end in their favor. What did the team do in the second half to really turn the attack up a few notches and score three goals within the course of 12 minutes?
Lori: “I don't think anything out of the ordinary was said in the locker room at halftime. You have to remember, a soccer game is 90 minutes long, not 20 minutes or 45 minutes. As we always do, as a team, we just kept going after them and finally got the ball to bounce our way.”
Brian: Going into the Brazil match, was the team distracted at all by the move? It appeared that the team itself wasn't firing on all cylinders as the game wore on.
Lori: “The goalkeeper change really had no effect on our preparation or confidence going into that game. We just really got some unlucky breaks, giving up an own goal and then getting a red card. To give Brazil credit, they are a great team and unbelievably skillful. I think as the game wore on, we started to get tired. It is hard to play a team the caliber of Brazil while a man down. I think the third goal kind of dampened our spirits and it was tough to recover.”
Brian: Lastly, I think you really established yourself as perhaps one of bright young stars on this team. Are there any "what ifs" personally that maybe you wished you could have accomplished?
Lori: “I am really proud of the way the team responded against Norway and the performance we put forth for ourselves and our country. After such a tough loss, we pulled together for our best team win of the tournament. Personally, I would have loved to come back home as champions and wish I could have done more to help the team accomplish that goal, but I am proud of what we did achieve.”