U.S. WNT Flashback - 20th Anniversary of First-Ever Match: Kim Wyant
Despite being only 5-foot-5 (barely), Wyant was a tremendous athlete and leaper who dominated her penalty box, especially in the air. Her freshman season was the first in which the NCAA conducted a championship for women’s soccer and she helped Central Florida all the way to the title game where they fell 2-0 to UNC, (which featured future first game teammate, Stacey Enos). Wyant, who has the distinction of being the first goalkeeper in U.S. history, as well as earning the first win and first shutout, finally stepped out of the nets in 2002 after 20 years of high-level goalkeeping and nine seasons with the Long Island Lady Riders of the W-League, where she is currently the General Manager. Wyant played in seven of her nine matches for the USA over 1985-1987, but returned to the national team six years later to play her final two games. Fittingly, her final game and start was a shutout in the championship game of a CONCACAF tournament in New Hyde Park, N.Y., a 1-0 victory over Canada. The USA’s next match after that marked the debut of Briana Scurry.
More on the first-ever U.S. WNT match: OOOSA! | First Goal | Players Reflect
Career caps/Shutouts: 9/3
National Team Career: 1985-87, 1993
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Position played in first match: Goalkeeper
College: Central Florida (1982-86)
Last WNT game: Aug. 8, 1993, vs. Canada (1-0 W)
What she’s doing now: General Manger for the Long Island Lady Riders of the USL W-League.
WNT Career Highlight: “The biggest highlight was the fact that I was standing on the field for the very first U.S. international game.”
Memories of the first game: “When I think back, I am always amazed about how vivid a memory it is. I was just 21 years old, and at that age you can be a little immature and oblivious, but I knew the significance of being in the match that day, and I am extremely proud to have been there. It was my first time out of the country and Jesolo, Italy, was the most beautiful place I could imagine being. It was a resort on the Adriatic Sea and was absolutely gorgeous. The day of the first game, I remember it was a beautiful day, brilliantly sunny with blue skies. We arrived at a small, quaint stadium that could hold maybe 4,000 people. The field was pristine. There was not a blade of grass out of place, no bumps, no holes. Warming up on the field, they played loud American music and that got us into the mood to play. We knew we were up against a tremendous opponent in Italy and before the match there were ceremonies as it was the first game of the tournament. There was also a great deal of interest (in the first game) since the Italian team was playing. I remember lining up on the field and hearing my name being called. Probably the most significant moment for me happened when we were standing in the lineup and they were about to play our National Anthem. Without talking or previously planning, the whole team just did a quarter turn to face our flag. I can’t speak for the other players, but for me it was very emotional. I couldn’t hold back the tears. It was very significant and humbling to be recognized as the best at my position. It was tremendous.”
Thoughts on how women’s soccer has grown: “I’ve seen it come a long way. I’m just thrilled it has come so far. To think I was playing for the national team even before Anson Dorrance was the coach…he was my regional coach! When I played in college, there were only about 100 total schools playing women’s soccer. All the small schools, big schools, JCs, were all in the same pot. Now you have all the divisions and championships in the NCAA, the NAIA and Junior College. The growth has been leaps and bounds in every way.”
Thoughts on the 1999 Women’s World Cup: “I was tremendously happy for the team, for women’s soccer, and for this country. It was bittersweet at times, because I thought I should have gone out there Rose Bowl to be a part of it, as I knew there were a lot of players that had gone to the game as a fan. (Wyant was actually on her couch recovering from a torn Achilles tendon). But I was in the stands in Athens, Georgia, when we won the gold medal. The gold medal game was a nail-biter. (At the Rose Bowl) I can just imagine how the players on the field were feeling with the heat and intensity of the game. I knew Michelle (Akers) so I was happy for her and her success, but the attention of the whole tournament was unbelievable. I felt a little bit attached, and even though I didn’t have responsibility for the success they were having, it was good to be a part of it. My phone was also ringing as everyone wanted to know what it was like to be a part of the first game. For my phone to be ringing, for reporters to be digging that deep to get a story that they would call me, really showed what was happening in this country during that summer.”