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Remembering '99: Manya Makoski

It is hard to remember certain things from the past. What was I doing on this day? Or where was I for this occasion? However, when it comes to soccer, the details are clear.

Ten years ago marks important history for women’s soccer. The 1999 Women’s World Cup meant something to every fanatic. We were all a part of it. And we all have our own story…

It was the summer before my sophomore year of high school in Trumbull, CT. It was the time in my career when I really enjoyed playing the game and tried to learn as much about it as I could. After our preseason captain’s practices, I would head home to watch the games.

Kristine Lilly, number 13, was my all-time favorite. I tried to make it so that we had more than just our home state in common; attempting to model my game like hers. And of course, I had to wear number 13.
For the final, a few of my teammates and I gathered at one of our houses to watch the match. Our local newspaper, the Connecticut Post, who covered our high school team, the Trumbull High Golden Eagles (because we were number one in the state, no big deal!), also came to write up a story on us watching the championship.

We cheered as if we were there at the stadium in Pasadena. My eyes never left the TV screen. When Lilly headed the ball off the line, we erupted in screams, giving each other high fives. With each close chance on goal for each team, I crept up a little closer to the TV. We waited anxiously after the final whistle blew. Penalty kicks.

I held my breath when each kicker stepped up to take her shot. I exuberantly exhaled as soon as the ball hit the back of the net for Overbeck, Fawcett, Lilly, and Mia. Scurry’s save against China’s third kicker, Liu, set up the last penalty kick as a nerve-wrecking situation for Brandi Chastain.

Blasting it with her less dominant foot past the goalkeeper, Brandi ripped her jersey off and screamed her head off in celebration. Back at home, we did the same. Well, maybe not the jersey part, but we cheered like we had just won it ourselves.

Looking back and comparing it to where I am now in my career has been eye opening. The 1999 WWC was truly an inspiration for me. I wanted to make it to a higher level, to be a professional soccer player, and compete with and against the best in the world.

Now I have that opportunity. And I hope to be an inspiration myself; for those younger players trying to learn from me, hoping to fill my cleats someday.

Manya Makoski is a midfielder for the Los Angeles Sol.