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TRUMBULL, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — As the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team triumphed magnificently, there were huge World Cup watch parties all over the country.
But few were as home spun and charming as the one at a retirement home in Cheshire, Conn., as the family of goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher watched their special girl lead a victory for the ages.
Helen Taylor, who is 100 years old, is Naeher’s delighted grandma.
“I’m excited to be here and watch her and I’m very proud of her,” Taylor said.
With her spectacular saves, like the penalty kick she stopped against England in the semifinals, and dogged determination, Naeher has become the pride of Trumbull, where she attended Christian Heritage School, class of 2006, and her father was her coach.
The 31-year-old native of Bridgeport, who also plays for the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League, is all the talk at Christian Heritage. Her name and accomplishments, including in basketball, are well documented in the school’s lore.
“It’s so cool that she came from our school. It’s amazing,” said 15-year-old Natania Muriel.
Student-athletes like Muriel and her friends, all of whom play on the school’s varsity soccer team, speak glowingly of the World Cup champion, a woman some of them have met before and said they’d love to emulate.
“She’s definitely an example and a role model for all of us and especially for me, just because of her perseverance and her determination and her wants to become better,” senior Hope Krekoska said.
John Egan is the girls’ soccer coach at the school.
“They’re all thinking of her. They’re looking at how hard she’s working,” Egan said, adding, “and they want to work as hard as she does. They want to be on that stage as well.”
Lorna Tyrrell is related to Naeher, and said ever since Alyssa was little she dreamed of achieving great things on the pitch.
“I am pretty proud of this cousin of mine,” Tyrrell said. “She’s just really driven and loved the practicing. She just never stopped. She always had a ball in her head, so, yeah it makes sense to me.”
And for Naeher, those big, school-girl dreams have come true.