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Duke Soccer Players Win Gold
Editor's Note: |The Chronicle
While most Duke students were getting settled into the Fall semester here in Durham, junior Mollie Pathman and sophomore Kelly Cobb were in Japan representing the United States at the U-20 Women's World Cup.
The two returned to Duke with gold medals after the United States defeated Germany in the final 1-0 last Sunday.
"They couldn't get us off the field," Cobb said. "We were celebrating, singing."
Cobb shared that "Donât Wake Me Up" by Chris Brown was the teamâs theme song during their experience and was played prominently in the post-victory celebrations.
"Every time I hear that song it kind of gets me a bit teary eyed, because in the locker room after the game when we were getting our medals, that song played," Cobb said. "Every time I hear that song Iâll remember that trip and those girls."
During the tournament, the United States scraped through the group stage on goal difference, before advancing past North Korea after extra time in the quarterfinals. The nervy start changed and the United States stepped up a gear and moved past Nigeria 2-0 in the semifinals.
Cobb said the U.S. women's national team's recent success at the Summer Olympics was something the team tried to emulate.
"We talked about it at some meetings about how they came back, goal after goal and kept on fighting. Theyâre great role models, and every time you watch the full national team you learn something from them," Cobb said. "I think thatâs how we responded to going down in group play... Our group play was not very successful... I think we expected to dominate a little more. We came out of that and turned our attitude around and found the mentality of the [United States national team]."
It was not all about the soccer, though, as the team had chances to travel to five different cities and enjoy the Japanese culture. The pair is in agreement over one thing - the politeness and the welcoming hospitality of the Japanese people. The US team visited the Hiroshima Memorial and paid respects there. They were also able to interact with fans off the field by signing autographs and playing soccer with local children.
"They have a great passion for womenâs soccer, which is fantastic," Cobb said. "Theyâre very supportive for the Japan U-20 national team."
While attendance was low at the start of the tournament, the team played in front of much larger crowds as it reached the later rounds. The attendance was over 30,000 during the final against Germany.
The Americans also had a chance to get to know each other during friendly times before the battle to the national championship begins.
"My team is like my best friends, we've gone through so much. This experience is really stressful on all of us," Pathman said. "It really bonds us, we called ourselves a family. These are really my sisters and Iâd do anything for them. It was sad saying goodbye to everyone."
As the conference schedule approaches, the lasting bonds will now be tested on the field. The U.S. team includes seven other players who compete for an ACC school.
"Thereâs a lot of them in the ACC and we're excited to see each other," Pathman said. "On the field we're going to be competitors but as soon as we step off the field, weâll be back to that same sister mentality."
Cobb said the friendship will make her prepare differently - it might "throw her off a little bit."
In their absence, the Blue Devils have raced to a 6-2 season start, scoring 34 goals in the process. Cobb and Pathman have tried to keep in touch with the team, having many Skype calls and texts to wish their teammates good luck before games.
Now that the two are back they are busy catching up with class and their teammates, but with the 13-hour time difference between Durham and Japan, Cobb has admitted that it is sometimes difficult to stay awake in class.
"Thank God for coffee," Cobb said.