(AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands) — Christen Press had “no expectations” coming into this World Cup, but when she stepped on the field for teammate Megan Rapinoe and scored the opening goal of the semifinal win over England, she knew all the years of hard work would have prepared.
“We prepare for four years for these very small and short shooting star moments and I knew I was ready,” the 30-year-old forward told “Good Morning America” of her second start in this World Cup tournament.
Press’ header to the top left corner of the net off a cross from Kelley O’Hara continued the team’s record of scoring within the first 12 minutes in all six of their 2019 Women’s World Cup games. Her goal came in the 10th minute of Tuesday’s match.
“It’s obvious there’s no filling Megan Rapinoe’s shoes and it was important for me to not try to do that,” Press explained. “It’s just about being my best self and believing that I have everything I need inside of me, that I’m good enough, and that I was ready for that moment. And I was excited to have the opportunity to represent my family, my country and all the fans that are here supporting us.”
Press’ father Cody had an amazing reaction to his daughter’s opening goal, and his celebration captured on video has felt the love on Twitter with over 19,000 likes.
“I think it takes a lot of determination and belief to be there, for the ball to find you in the box, for you to be able to execute when the team needs you and I think that’s what I was feeling. I was feeling gratitude for the people who helped me get to where I am and belief in my team and in our goal.”
Press continued, “My approach to this World Cup has just been to have no expectations, no attachments, to be ready for anything whatever my role is, whatever the game needs, to serve the team.”
When it comes time for Team USA to take on the Netherlands on Sunday, Press said she doesn’t know if she will be in the starting lineup but is ready for anything.
“Whatever role I’m given on the finals I’m gonna be ready. I think that all the girls feel that way,” she said. “Whatever the team needs we’re here to deliver and to win the World Cup, that’s the only thing that matters.”
The U.S. Women’s National Team’s joint-leading goal scorer missed play Tuesday due to a hamstring injury and Rapinoe told ESPN it was “feeling very good” and expects to play on Sunday.
Press also addressed the controversy that surrounded the team for their goal celebrations. She said if it were a men’s team there would not be the same level of backlash.
“We’re not remiss to notice that the criticism and the attention is quite different than it is from the men,” she said. “I think that the stakes are always heightened in the World Cup and things are dramatized, I think that I myself have really stayed outside of all of that type of coverage and that’s really important to me to deliver on what my team needs from me.”
Press said the team enjoyed their day off and are “recovering mentally and physically” but they will serve as each other’s support through to the end.
“What takes us through the game against the Netherlands is the same determination and focus, we’re a team on a mission. I’ve been so blown away by the resilience and the grit of my teammates,” she said. “They’re my inspiration, we’re each others inspiration and we’ll carry each other through the finals as well.”
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