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Hug For Haitian Goalie Shows U.S. Team's Spirit

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Hug For Haitian Goalie Shows U.S. Team's Spirit

Latin America

Hug For Haitian Goalie Shows U.S. Team's Spirit

Hug For Haitian Goalie Shows U.S. Team's Spirit

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/124838046/124838029" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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U.S. players comfort Haitian goalkeeper Alexandra Coby after the U.S. beat Haiti 9-0 on March 10 in Alajuela, Costa Rica, during the CONCACAF Under-17 Women's Championships. CONCACAF.com hide caption

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CONCACAF.com

U.S. players comfort Haitian goalkeeper Alexandra Coby after the U.S. beat Haiti 9-0 on March 10 in Alajuela, Costa Rica, during the CONCACAF Under-17 Women's Championships.

CONCACAF.com

Soccer blowouts are usually a cause for celebration, but when the American under-17 women's soccer team beat their Haitian counterparts 9-0 in a regional soccer tournament in Costa Rica, the victory was bittersweet.

U.S. goalie Bryane Heaberlin tells NPR's Melissa Block that when the final whistle blew after the March 10 game and the two teams shook hands, she noticed Haitian goalkeeper Alexandra Coby was still on the ground. Heaberlin says she and the rest of the team walked toward Coby.

"I opened my arms and gave her a hug," she says. "And everybody else joined in in the hug."

Heaberlin says that before the game, the team had read an article that said most of the Haitian team had been made homeless by the devastating January earthquake.

"I knew everything that she [Coby] had gone through before the game, and I knew how tough it had to have been for her," Heaberlin says. "So I just thought a hug would help her a lot."

After the game, the mood of the U.S. team was somber.

"Nobody was happy about the win," Heaberlin says. "We were all so taken [aback] by what had just happened, and we were all just thinking about all of the great things that we have in our lives."

The Haiti earthquake weighed on the U.S. team's mind even before the games. Heaberlin says that before the tournament, U.S. Soccer had the idea of each player bringing a bagful of cleats, soccer gloves and other equipment for the Haitian players.

"We didn't really know how much impact it would have on them, but I think it had a really great impact on the Haitians," she says.

Defender Olivia Brannon read a letter to the Haitians, thanking the team for inspiring the Americans to play great soccer and commending them for everything they had been through.

"Seeing the Haitians smile," Heaberlin says, "was amazing for all of us."