After months of celebrating the U.S. women's national team World Cup victory, one would think Alyssa Naeher and Samantha Mewis have seen it all, but as they stood on the Patriots sideline on Dec. 29 and Tom Brady walked by, they couldn't help but get lost in the moment.
Though their team became iconic in France this summer, both Naeher and Mewis are New England born and raised, growing up in Bridgeport, Conn., and Hanson, Mass., respectively. On Sunday, they got a chance to come to Foxborough for the last regular season game of 2019. Even if they are champions in their own right, Naeher and Mewis were excited to be on the field at Gillette Stadium and serve as the official locker room door openers before the team walked out onto the field.
"It's wild," Naeher said.
Before making their way down to the field for warmups, Naeher and Mewis were invited by Robert Kraft to a pregame reception in the trophy room, and Mewis said being celebrated by their hometown teams is yet another sweet moment in a year full of them.
"It's pretty incredible," Mewis said. "We got the opportunity to go to Fenway right after the World Cup, as well. Between those two things, it's pretty incredible."
In the months since the national team defeated the Netherlands in the finals, they have been in a parade, been given keys to New York City and even been named Time's 2019 Athlete of the Year. An entire country rallied behind this team, and both said the support has been overwhelming since coming home.
"I think a whirlwind is a perfect word for it. It's been crazy," Naeher said.
"Just hearing from fans as we've gotten home, just how much fun they had watching and how special it was for them. We didn't really feel that when we were over there, and so to get to experience it as we get back was, it kind of helped us relive it, "Mewis said.
For those who followed along this summer, World Cup fever was contagious and inspiring, and the fact that it was 20 years out from the 1999 U.S. Women's World Cup victory wasn't lost on many of those who were around to watch both victories. Comparisons have been drawn between the two teams, and though very different, their fires burned with the same intensity.
"I remember being at the '99 World Cup as an 11-year-old kid, and it was incredible," Naeher said. "To now be able to be on the other side of it, hopefully it inspired those others, whether they're kids or adults or everybody in between. It's just special to be a part of it."
The support the U.S. Women's National Team received this summer came from all over the country, but for Mewis and Naeher, there is a little added pride in representing a passionate sports region like New England. Growing up fans on New England's sports teams and having played sports in the region, they know firsthand how seriously their corner of the country is in their support.
"I think Boston is one of the best sports cities in the world," Naeher said. "I had the opportunity to play for the Boston Breakers for five years, and I loved every second of it. To have the support of Boston and to be part of this incredible city, it's just awesome."