From Bel Air resident Scott Kreiger:
I thought your readers might be interested to know that there is a local connection to the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team that just beat Brazil in dramatic fashion on Sunday.
Ali Krieger started the final play in extra time of that game by taking the ball away from a Brazilian attacker deep in her own end. She dribbled into open space before passing it on to Carli Lloyd in the midfield, who in turn passed it to Megan Rapinoe on the left flank. Megan made an incredible cross to Abby Wambach, who headed the ball into the goal to tie the game at 2-2. After our goalie Hope Solo stopped a Brazilian penalty kick, it came down to the fifth player in the U.S. rotation. Ali Krieger stepped up and, without hesitation, shot the ball past the diving Brazilian goalie into the left side of the net to win the game. It doesn’t get much more exciting at the end of a game than this.
Ali Krieger is the soon-to-be 27-year-old starting right defensive back on team USA. She has started and played every minute of every game in this World Cup. In addition to the heroics described above, she has also played some pretty stellar defense, especially when the U.S. was down a player for more than half of the game against Brazil. Ali Krieger is also my niece.
Ali is the daughter of my younger brother Kenneth. Ken, my sister Marlene and I grew up in Aberdeen. My father, Robert, was an Aeronautical Engineer who directed the wind tunnel at APG. My mother, Vivian, lovingly cared for her children and her home, as was customary in the 50’s and 60’s.
Ken played soccer and baseball at Aberdeen High School where he graduated in 1972. He went on to play both sports at Frostburg where he met Ali’s mom, Debbie Alongi, a basketball player. So there’s your athletic gene pool. They ultimately married and had Alexandra and Kyle. Debbie and Ken got divorced a few years ago and Debbie has since remarried. Both are in Germany supporting their daughter.
When Ken graduated from college in 1977, there were no Phys Ed teaching or coaching jobs available in Harford County. That led him to move to northern Virginia, which was growing fast and hiring teachers just as fast. My sister later followed him when she graduated for the same reason and they both now live in Manassas, Va.
Ken ultimately settled in Dumfries, Virginia with his family. There he developed as a coach and teacher and made an enormous impression on the game of soccer, his coaches and players. As a high school coach, his teams won four State Championships and when he retired a couple of years ago, he had accumulated the most wins ever by a Virginia high school boys soccer coach with an overall record of 386-191-39. He has also coached with 3 different college teams and has been involved with numerous associations and organizations, focusing on youth soccer. Ken now manages the Prince William County soccer program full time. In January 2010, Ken was inducted into the Virginia Youth Soccer Association Hall of Fame.
Not surprisingly, Ali and her brother Kyle grew up playing soccer. Ken coached a number of her club teams and Ali was a standout high school player at Forrest Park. She was Virginia player of the year in her senior year. She went on to play soccer at Penn State where she was a two-time all-American and won a number of Big Ten personal awards and League Championships.
Ali migrated to Germany after graduating to play professionally when the U.S. professional women’s league folded. She has played for Frankfurt Football Club in the German Bundes Liga for the last 4 years where she won league, cup and European titles in 2008. When Ali went to Germany as a 22-year-old she didn’t know anyone. But she had a determination to become the best player she could be, and playing with and against German national team players was where she knew she could accomplish that. She left speaking fluent German, elevated her game and made numerous friends who will always remain a part of her life.
Ali has had stints with the Under-20 National Team, the National Team and was an alternate on the Olympic team that won the gold medal. Determined not to have to stay at home again when an international tournament was to be played, Ali has now moved back to America to focus primarily on her National Team career.
This is a new beginning for Ali and the family, friends and country she is carrying along with her for the ride. It’s been a long, hard road to reach the pinnacle of her sport, but she and her teammates are not yet satisfied. They are in the World Cup to win it and they have to win two more games to accomplish that goal. The first step is against France in the semi-finals televised Wednesday, July 13 at 11:30 a.m. on ESPN. If they win that game and the World Cup final on Sunday, there will be time to celebrate–a short time–then back to work for the Olympics next summer in London. Go USA!