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U.S. WNT Flashback - 20th Anniversary of First-Ever Match: Lori Henry

Lori Henry was the only player from the first match who made it to the 1991 Women’s World Championship in China and one of two players to hit double-figures in caps. The most accomplished player on the field who played in the first game, she ended her career with 39 caps and a world title. She was a tenacious marking back who played in two games at the 1991 Women’s World Championship, starting against Japan and coming on as a substitute against Taiwan. A crunching tackler and super aggressive in the air, Henry retired from international play after the Women’s World Championship Final. She coached in the NCAA Division I as an assistant at UNC-Greensboro and was the first head coach at Ohio State, running the Buckeye program from 1993-1996.

More on the first-ever U.S. WNT match: OOOSA! | First Goal | Players Reflect

Career caps/Goals:
National Team Career: 1985-1991
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Position played in first match: Stopper
College: UNC (1986-89)
Last WNT game: November 24, 1991, against Taiwan. (7-0 W)

What she’s doing now: Teacher at Kellogg Middle School in Shoreline, Washington.

WNT Career Highlight: “The thing that really started my whole national team career was being the youngest player on the West Regional team in 1985 at LSU. When we arrived, we heard they were going to pick a national team, but as the youngest player, I didn’t have any grand illusions about making it, I just worked my behind off and did the best job I could. Mike Ryan sat all the players down at the end of camp and was reading all the names who made it. As he went through all the names, and I didn’t hear mine, I was thinking that I had a great experience and a great time, and how that was enough for me. Then my name was one of the last ones read. It didn’t even hit me until all my teammates jumped on me. I was just floored. I couldn’t even imagine the series of events that moment would lead to, but I was very honored and humbled to be chosen. Michelle Akers and I were 19 and the youngest players chosen. It was a memorable moment, just wanting to be a part of it, but not even expecting it.”

Memories of the first game: “It was just incredible. We were really the underdogs, but the realization that I was representing my country was an incredible honor. We were not just playing for ourselves or our team, it was very clear that we were representing our country. We had seen other national teams in other sports, and in the Olympics, and I think we realized that’s where we were headed. We wanted to represent well.”

“We weren’t really a threat to the Italian team, so the fans were rooting for us and even felt bad for us. We got our behinds kicked in that first tournament. We had no idea what we were walking into. Players in Europe were so much more advanced at that time. After that first (competition), we learned a lot. We bounced back. That was really our initiation into the international game.”

“We had the men’s practice uniforms, not even our national colors, and they didn’t match. That’s all we had. We’re weren’t the prettiest, but we felt that eventually we were going to be the best.”

“Even though that first tournament was such a shocker, the commitment of the Federation and the players led us to feel were weren’t going to be in that spot again. Really, we had nowhere else to go but up.”

Thoughts on how women’s soccer has grown: “It’s been absolutely amazing to watch, but I am not surprised. There has always been a determination in players who have come and gone on the Women’s National Team to push the game. At the time, we knew we couldn’t settle for anything and that we had to keep pushing each other. I think that’s why a lot of former players have become college coaches. It’s our love of the game and we really have a community among the national team players, sharing information and trying to make each other better. That’s really a credit to Anson Dorrance and his philosophy, letting us know that we were the future coaches of America. That’s something we would joke about, telling Anson that we were players not coaches, but after our careers were over, so many did become coaches. He had great foresight.”

Thoughts on the 1999 Women’s World Cup: “I was at the Final and there was so much pride in where our team had come from. It was amazing to sit around my peers in the stands who were all there at the beginning, and to look around the stadium at 90,000 fans. It is a small sorority of players who have had careers that have taken them to a world championship, so to share that understanding of what it takes to get to that a point, it was beyond emotional. It was the most pride you could have and I was so glad the rest of the country could share in that.”

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