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At Spokane watch party, ‘no doubt’ of victory in Women’s World Cup Final

UPDATED: Sun., July 7, 2019

From left, Joe Miller, Sonia Martinez and Annie Miller wait with bated breath while watching a penalty kick in the Women’s World Cup soccer final on Sunday, July 7, 2019, at Geno’s bar in Spokane. They are members of the American Outlaws soccer fan club, which organized a watch party Sunday. The penalty kick gave the American team its first goal of the game. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
From left, Joe Miller, Sonia Martinez and Annie Miller wait with bated breath while watching a penalty kick in the Women’s World Cup soccer final on Sunday, July 7, 2019, at Geno’s bar in Spokane. They are members of the American Outlaws soccer fan club, which organized a watch party Sunday. The penalty kick gave the American team its first goal of the game. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Soccer fans filled Geno’s in Spokane’s Logan Neighborhood bright and early Sunday to watch the American team play in the Women’s World Cup Final.

The crowd of about 80 was excited and attentive as the game began at 8 a.m. Two hours later, the bar erupted with cheers, hugs and high-fives as Team USA defeated the Netherlands 2-0.

“I had no doubt that we would get here,” said Kerri Olsen, who belongs to the local chapter of American Outlaws, a fan club for the women’s and men’s national soccer teams that claims Geno’s as Spokane’s official soccer bar.

The local American Outlaws chapter was founded in 2017 and has more than 60 members. Olsen, the club’s treasurer, had predicted the winning score and said she got “goose bumps” when it became a reality.

She said watch parties for the women’s tournament have had more consistent turnout than for the men’s. Some of the club’s members even traveled to France to watch it, she said.

Other local bars, including nYne Bar and Bistro and The Swinging Doors, hosted tournament watch parties as well.

Olsen marveled at how many people showed up at Geno’s. Fans dressed up for the occasion in soccer jerseys and American Outlaw scarves, many donning red, white and blue.

“I only discovered soccer this year,” said one attendee, Deb Yager. A big part of her newfound love for soccer is Megan Rapinoe, the national team co-captain who has become famous for her talent on the field and her political outspokenness.

On Sunday, Yager wore a shirt that read: “Rapinoe is my spirit animal.”

Rapinoe scored the first goal of the game on a penalty kick in the second half, her 50th goal in international play. When she’s not playing for the national team, Rapinoe plays for Reign FC, a National Women’s Soccer League team based in Tacoma.

“Her values really resonated with me,” Yager said. “She shows her real true self on and off the field.”

For Yager, the 2019 World Cup was “an incredible introduction to soccer.”

Elsewhere in the bar, longtime soccer fan Kelly Gordon clapped, cheered and chatted with friends.

“It’s well-deserved,” Gordon said of Team USA’s victory.

Gordon plays in a 40-and-older soccer league every week, keeping alive his love of the game that started when he was a child. He said he’s become a regular at Geno’s since learning about the bar’s soccer watch parties.

He plans to join American Outlaws and keep on playing.

Eight minutes after Rapinoe’s goal, Rose Lavelle scored the second goal, sending the crowd at Geno’s into another round of cheers.

After a foul, the announcer said, “USA fans voicing their disapproval.”

“That’s right,” replied Jessa Lewis, watching from a booth.

Lewis described herself as a soccer mom. Her daughter played elite club soccer until injuries forced her to quit, but Lewis remains an avid fan of the sport.

“They’re just such real people,” Lewis said of the players. She said she feels especially connected to the game, having met many of the Reign FC players.

After the match ended, celebrations dwindled but fans continued to linger.

Turning to her friends with a big smile, Yager said, “I’m just soaking it in.”

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