Crystal Lake native on US women's soccer team

Japan's Mana Iwabuchi (20) falls to the ground as the United States' Amy LePeilbet (6) chases the ball during the second half of a friendly soccer match in Cary, N.C., Wednesday, May 18, 2011. Team USA won 2-0. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

July 15, 2011 3:11:58 PM PDT
Amy LePeilbet, the defensive wizard on the U.S. Women's Soccer Team, got her start in the far northwest suburbs. LePeilbet and the rest of her team are going for the World Cup Championship on Sunday.

LePeilbet, 29, is from Crystal Lake.

At Chicago Storm Soccer Camp in Algonquin, World Cup fever is alive and kicking among the young and old, boys and girls, and players and coaches. They're cheering on Team USA.

"I think it's actually pretty amazing that they beat Brazil. Because they're usually one of the best teams," Becca Price, 13, said.

"To me they've always been my favorite, and they're the best team to me even if they win or lose. But they've been amazing," Nicole Edwards, 12, said.

The Chicago-area is well-represented on the US team: backup goalie Jillian Loyden and midfielder Carli Lloyd both played for the Chicago Red Stars pro team, as did Megan Rapinoe, who made the pivotal crossing pass to Abby Wambach for that now-famous header against Brazil. And LePeilbet is a 2000 graduate of Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake. Athletic Director Patti Hie said LePeilbet is the most gifted athlete she's coached in 30 years.

"Everybody -- her opponents, her coaches, her teammates - everybody had such great respect for her, but she never had a big head. Very coachable," Patti Hie, athletic director, Prairie High School, said.

LePeilbet didn't' just make her mark on the soccer field in high school. She was also the starting point guard for the girls' basketball team. Coaches say she easily could have played hoop in college if soccer hadn't been her true love.

From Germany, her father encouraged Chicago soccer fans to cheer. Andy LePeilbet said, "Cheer so loud that they can hear it from Germany."

If the U.S. women beat Japan on Sunday, Chicago Soccer expects their world cup jerseys to fly off the shelves. Already, sales have spiked.

"I mean, especially after that great game they played against Brazil, a lot of people have been jumping on the bandwagon, trying to get their stuff and gear, so we do have it already here for them," Carlos Martinez, Chicago Soccer, said.

The team of talented women is inspiring a new generation of players.

"I always look up to them and try and do my best and try and learn their moves," Debra Tomlinson, 13, said.

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