Move over Frank Pietrangelo – former Pittsburgh Penguins back-up goalie, who made “The Save” that’s most remembered in Pittsburgh sports lore in the 1991 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs for the Pittsburgh Penguins against the New Jersey Devils.
A U.S. Women’s soccer player — Gibsonia’s Meghan Klingenberg – made a save that just might rival Pietrangelo’s.
Throughout much of their Group D match in the Women’s World Cup on Friday, the United States Women’s National Team was stuggling to really put together many quality scoring chances against a formidable Sweden squad.
Then, in the 79th minute, the U.S. were facing the most dangerous situation of the game.
After a corner kick from was deflected away from the U.S. goal, Sweden’s Caroline Seger sent a beautiful ball using the outside of her right foot, bending right and away from the vicinity of goalkeeper Hope Solo who had come out to the near, left post to play the ball away from danger.
But as Seger delivered this strike on target, all that stood between the path of the spinning ball — heading under the crossbar — and the goal, was a leaping five-foot two-inch Kingenberg.
It was a save that kept Sweden off the scoresheet, and kept the U.S. in the top spot in Group D after two games, as the match would end in a 0-0 draw.
After the match, a humble Klingenberg expressed that she was just doing her job and kidded that she used all of her height, and leaping ability.
At 5’2” — the Pine Richland H.S. grad has been teased by her teammates about her height. But she stood — rather — she sprung tall — in the 79th minute to stop a sure goal. She was positioned right where she should have been (much like Kristine Lilly in the 1999 World Cup final) — right on the goal line on the opposite side of her keeper.
Soccer is a game that can be determined by moments like this – as each player must be prepared to make an instinctive play that can help their team, and their country’s cause in their quest to move on in the World Cup.
It was a night when we witnessed an otherwise ragged U.S. performance — particularly in the midfield and the attacking third.
The U.S. seemed to lack creativity in the midfield — seemed to play the ball to the widith on almost every possession and counter going forward. They did not connect on many crosses and balls into the box. Giveaways by the central midfield, were mostly negated and saved by the back line — thanks to the superb work of Klingenberg’s back line mate, Julie Johnston.
If the U.S. continues to play like this, they may have some serious trouble against the likes of the stronger teams in the field like France, Canada, Japan and Germany.
But, they did get the point, and they remain at the top of what most experts believe is this tournament’s “Group of Death.”
And they can thank the Pittsburgh girl for that.
You can follow Pittsburgh Soccer Report’s John Krysinsky on Twitter @johnkrysinsky for commentary on the Women’s World Cup, and soccer scene in the Greater Pittsburgh region.