RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team entered the World Cup stage last night in a big way by beating Australia 3-to-1.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MONTAGNE: NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji watched the game with 31,000 screaming fans, including one family spending its summer vacation following the team.
SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, BYLINE: Meet the Hemphill's.
MICHAEL HEMPHILL: Michael Hemphill.
EMILY HEMPHILL: Emily Hemphill.
MEG HEMPHILL: Meg Hemphill.
JULIA HEMPHILL: Julia Hemphill.
NAOMI HEMPHILL: Naomi Hemphill.
MERAJI: They road-tripped from just outside Roanoke, Va., to Winnipeg more than 1,500 miles and set up camp along the way with their pop-up tent they nicknamed Martha.
J. HEMPHILL: It has been better than I anticipated, I must say.
E. HEMPHILL: Every campsite we go to, there's either no shower or the shower's broken.
MEG HEMPHILL: Seriously. We have not washed in three days.
N. HEMPHILL: That's not true. That is not true. You have not washed in three days.
MERAJI: You can see the Hemphill's have a sense of humor. Mom Julia is a family practitioner. Dad Michael does marketing for the girl's school. 15-year-old Naomi, 12-year-old Emily, and 10-year-old Meg are all soccer players. It was dad's idea to hit the road for a month.
MICHAEL HEMPHILL: See some beautiful country and have us all spend some time together real close (laughter).
N. HEMPHILL: You can say that.
MICHAEL HEMPHILL: And at the same time, you know, following something that we're all real passionate about, which is U.S. women's soccer.
MERAJI: They were biting their nails during the first half of the U.S. women's game. An obviously nerve-wracked defensive line left too many scoring opportunities for the Australian team, forcing goalie Hope Solo to make one incredible save after another.
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Hope Solo, Hope Solo.
MERAJI: Even though the U.S. scored pretty early on, Australia tied it up before the half. It was very physical out there and wasn't looking good for the Americans until 61 minutes in.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MERAJI: Christen Press scored off a beautiful assist from Sydney Leroux. The Hemphill's were on their feet high-fiving one another and hoping for just one more goal to ease their nerves, and they got it - Megan Rapinoeâs second in the game
MICHAEL HEMPHILL: It was good to see them rack up three goals tonight.
MERAJI: Good because the Hemphill's need some worry-free rest after all that travel. They'll be staying put at a campground in Winnipeg, taking in some of the local sites and relaxing until Friday's game. The U.S. plays Sweden, and it's predicted to be a tough match. The Swedes tied Nigeria yesterday, so they're looking for a win to give them the best chance to move to the next round, and as Naomi and Meg Hemphill know, Sweden's Pia Sundhage used to coach the U.S. team.
N. HEMPHILL: All the players have been there a long time, like, they obviously all know her really well and everything, so I think it'll be hard for them to play against their old coach.
MEG HEMPHILL: Yeah, and she knows our techniques. She knows our techniques, which is not good. That's not good.
MERAJI: Not good but definitely exciting, and nobody wants to travel 1,500 miles without showering for a boring a World Cup game, right? Shereen Marisol Meraji, NPR News, Winnipeg. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.