Former Washington Freedom midfielder Joanna Lohman, who just wrapped up her first season with the D.C. United Women, was training on the Springbrook High School stadium field earlier this month when suddenly a group of high-school-aged boys crowded the top of the bleachers.
“I was like, they can’t be watching me, this isn’t exciting,” said Lohman, a 2000 Springbrook graduate. “Then they started screaming down, ‘Megan! Megan!’ I was like, ‘I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but I’m not Megan Rapinoe.’ And then they all left.”
It was the second time Lohman was mistaken for Rapinoe, a star forward for the U.S. Women’s National Team. But she was not bothered by it.
Rather it was encouraging, she said, for young boys to be familiar with women’s soccer players.
The excitement around women’s soccer, which is soaring after the U.S. won the gold medal at the London Olympics on Aug., 9, was evident Saturday night at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds.
The Celebration of Women’s Soccer charity match featured National Team members past and present, along with some of the biggest names in women’s professional soccer.
D.C. United Women defender and former Washington Freedom fan favorite Becky Sauerbrunn was on hand, wearing her gold medal and sharing Olympic stories with the estimated 2,000 fans in attendance.
Former National Team defender and popular Washington Freedom player Cat Whitehill, along with Freedom teammates Allie Long, Nikki Marshall and Kati Jo Spisak and D.C. United Women midfielder and former England Women’s National Team player Lianne Sanderson were among the professional players there to show off their talent.
Springbrook graduate Sonia Basma, who plays semi-professionally for the Northern Virginia Majestics, Good Counsel graduate Danielle Malagari and former Albert Einstein standout Diana Barrera also participated.
“We’re all out here simply for the love of the sport,” said Basma, who scored a goal in Saturday’s exhibition game. “After the Olympics, the sport is growing and it’s important for kids to get to see where they can be.”
There are three semi-professional teams in the Washington Metropolitan Area: D.C. United Women (W-League), Prince George’s County-based Maryland Capitols (Women’s Premier Soccer League), ASA Chesapeake Charge (WPSL).
Saturday’s game promoted the sport of women’s soccer to the next generation.
“I think a lot of high school athletes are getting really excited to play and are motivated by the [recent] Olympic gold medal.” Lohman said. “I’m confused as heck about all these teams we have [in this area] but it was good to get them all in one location, D.C. is a hotbed for women’s soccer. It was a great night for the fans to see the talent out on the field.”