The FIFA Women’s World Cup is ready to kick off and three players with LIJSL ties – Crystal Dunn, Allie Long, and Nicole McClure – will be playing in the upcoming Women’s World Cup in France from June 7 to July 7.
Dunn grew up in Rockville Centre. She developed her skills in the Olympic Development Program for six years, and she also played for the Rockville Centre Power, Rockville Centre Tornadoes, and Albertson Fury ’93 in the LIJSL, winning a State Cup title with the Power.
The USA team that Crystal was on won the 2012 Under-20 Women’s World Cup and she hopes to duplicate that success in France. She also received the 2012 Hermann Award as college soccer’s best player, was the first selection in the 2014 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Draft, and the 2015 NWSL Most Valuable Player.
Her USA teammate Allie Long grew up in East Northport in the Town of Huntington and started playing soccer for the Northport/Cow Harbor Mustangs of the LIJSL. She completed her youth career playing for LIJSL teams Oceanside Express and the Albertson Express, winning four consecutive State Open Cup titles with the Express. Allie used being a member of ODP for five years as a springboard to representing the United States internationally with the U.S women’s national team and Under-23 team.
“Words can’t even express my emotions (about making the Women’s World Cup roster),” Long said. “But if I could try to make you envision how I feel: Picture being a little girl, and you had a dream that you’ve always wanted and always dreamed about and it always motivated you, year after year, even when it seemed impossible at times. It pushed you through adversities and sacrifices. And then you finally accomplished it.”
Jamaica goalkeeper Nicole McClure, ironically a resident of Jamaica, Queens, played ODP for one year and also grew up playing in the LIJSL for the Auburndale Strikers and the East Meadow Shooting Stars. With the Shooting Stars, she won the ENYYSA Girls U15 State Open Cup Final in 2005.
In the CONCACAF Women’s Championships last October, McClure played one game in the group stage, a 9-0 shutout of Cuba. In the third-place match against Panama with the winner automatically qualifying for the Women’s World Cup, the score was knotted at 2-2 in the 120th minute when McClure was brought on for the shootout. She saved penalty kicks from Panama’s Lineth Cedeno and Kenia Rangel while Jamaica converted all four of their shots to qualify the Reggae Girlz for the Women’s World Cup.
McClure said, ”The feeling is indescribable. I am incredibly honored and humbled by all of this. It’s truly a dream come true and such a surreal feeling. It hits me in spurts as to what I did for my country. It’s amazing!”