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Chicago Red Stars goalie Alyssa Naeher laments World Cup loss ‘by a millimeter’

Alyssa Naeher, goalkeeper for the U.S. Women’s National Team and the Chicago Red Stars, did what she could in Sunday’s match against Sweden, diving to make a save during the penalty shootout and converting on her own kick to briefly give the U.S. a 4-3 lead.

But in the end it was a millimeter that made the difference. Forward Lina Hurtig converted to clinch the shootout 5-4 as Sweden ousted two-time reigning champion United States out of the World Cup in Round 16 after a scoreless draw in regulation and extra time.

Naeher lunged at the ball before it bounced off her gloves, then she punched it away. She thought she had saved Hurtig’s attempt, but it was ruled over the line by VAR.

“I thought I had it,” Naeher said, Fox News reported. “Unfortunately, it just slipped in. That’s a tough one.”

“We just lost the World Cup by a millimeter,” Naeher said.

Before the penalty kick that sealed the U.S. team’s fate, Naeher nailed her own penalty kick. It wasn’t enough for the Americans: Megan Rapinoe, Kelley O’Hara and Sophia Smith missed their respective attempts before Hurtig’s kick that sealed the Americans’ fate and early exit from the World Cup.

“I hurt for them,” Naeher said of that trio, Fox News reported. “It’s tough. They’ve trained for it, they prepare for it and unfortunately, those things happen. My heart hurts for them because I know how much they put into it.”

Despite the heartbreaking loss, Naeher said she was proud of her teammates.

United States’ goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher kicks the ball during the Women’s World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Sweden and the United States in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday.

United States’ goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher kicks the ball during the Women’s World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Sweden and the United States in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday.

“I am proud of the fight of the team. We knew we hadn’t done our best in the group stage, and we wanted a complete team performance, and the team came out and played great.”

Despite the U.S. coming in as the two-time defending champions, the team’s play through three group-stage matches has been criticized with a scoreless draw against Portugal and a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands. While the team as a whole struggled during this year’s World Cup, Naeher recorded her seventh World Cup shutout after the 0-0 draw in regulation and extra time, according to U.S. Soccer. Naeher ranks third all-time in USWNT World Cup shutouts behind Hope Solo (10) and Briana Scurry (9).

Contributing: AP



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