Saturday, May 25, 2024

Women’s World Cup: Sarina Bolden goes from Loyola Marymount standout to Philippines hero

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Sarina Bolden rose above two defenders and headed the ball toward the goal. New Zealand keeper Victoria Esson bobbled and fumbled it as it crossed the goal line.

Bolden pumped her fist as she sprinted to the sideline to celebrate with her teammates after scoring the first-ever goal at the Women’s World Cup for the Philippines, one that also made her team the first of 2023 edition’s eight newcomers to claim a win. It was 1-0, but that’s all the Filipinas needed to beat the Football Ferns.

“I’ll remember this moment forever, for the rest of my life,” Bolden said after the match. “I’m so happy to be a part of it,”

The 27-year-old forward didn’t have a straightforward path to representing the Philippines. Born in Santa Clara, California, Bolden spent her early sporting years playing for American academies.

Bolden joined the Philippines national team in 2018 while she was playing for Loyola Marymount. She would go on to sign her first professional club contract in 2019 with Sandvikens IF in Sweden. After departing Sweden, she spent time playing for teams in Taiwan, the United States, Japan and now Australia with the Western Sydney Wanderers.

“Just getting to experience all those kinds of different styles, I think it’s made me into the soccer player that I am today,” Bolden said.

The reaction to Bolden’s goal was instant. The large contingent of Filipino fans standing behind their team’s bench erupted as the New Zealand fans around the stadium let out cries of shock.

After the match, the Filipinas walked the length of the touchline behind the technical area in Sky Stadium, where thousands of fans celebrated the win as the players took a bow in front of them.

“I’ve just been learning that Filipinos are literally everywhere,” Bolden said. “I think we’re a great representation of what Filipinos are and we’re far and wide, But to culminate everyone together and to get everyone on the same page is amazing.”

Since she committed to the Philippines, Bolden has played in 37 international matches and scored 22 goals.

This isn’t the first time that Bolden has been her country’s star, either. In her senior international debut for the Philippines, Bolden scored the game winner in a 2-1 victory over Jordan in the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup. In the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, she scored the last kick in a penalty shootout against Taiwan that earned the Philippines a spot in the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

Switzerland 0, Norway 0

Goalkeeper Gaelle Thalmann shielded Switzerland to a scoreless draw against Norway on Tuesday at the Women’s World Cup, as the Norwegians played without star striker Ada Hegerberg because of injury.

Hegerberg was initially listed to start, but the team announced during the match that the former Ballon d’Or winner was unable to play after experiencing “a feeling in the groin” toward the end of her pre-match warmups.

The Norwegians could have used her to break open a scoreless g ame. In her place, Sophie Roman Haug started the match as a striker. But Roman Haug’s Women’s World Cup debut proved to be a fruitless one.She was substituted in the 73rd minute for Karina Saevik.

Switzerland and Norway each had their share of opportunities to score a decisive opener throughout the match, but it was Norway that forced Thalmann to come up with four saves.

Despite a constant drizzle for most of the match, 10,769 fans were in attendance for the Group A match in a Waikato Stadium that holds just over 18,000.

Thalmann made a number of key saves, but her sternest test came with 15 minutes left in regulation time.Norway substitute Caroline Graham Hansen released a powerful curving shot from the top of the area, but Thalmann parried the low shot out for a corner.

The result leaves Group A, which also includes the Philippines and co-host New Zealand, up for grabs. The Swiss lead with four points, New Zealand and the Philippines each have three and Norway has one. But there are scenarios under which each of them could make the knockout stages.

Switzerland will duel with second-place New Zealand on Sunday in Dunedin. In need of a win, Norway will travel to Auckland to face a Philippines lineup Sunday emboldened by its upset of the Football Ferns.

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