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Christie Pearce, The Greatest Athlete Ever From Monmouth County (by way of Ocean County)

Christie Pearce (formerly Rampone) is a retired American professional soccer player.  She is the former captain of the United States women’s national soccer team (USWNT).  Pearce is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, a silver Olympic medalist, and a two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, in addition to numerous other professional and amateur team championships.  She is by far the most decorated and accomplished athlete, male or female, to have been born, raised, or schooled in Monmouth County.

Pearce was key core member of the transcendent USWNT that won championship titles at the 2004 Athens Olympics, 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics.  The team has finished no worse than third place in any of the World Cup or Olympic tournaments in which Christie has competed.  Pearce was the oldest player to appear in a FIFA Women’s World Cup game (at age 40) until 2019.  With 311 “caps,” or appearances in international competition, Pearce is also the second-most capped player, male or female, in U.S. and world history, after teammate Kristine Lilly.

A Product of Both Ocean and Monmouth County

Christie Patricia Pearce was born June 24, 1975 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and grew up in Point Pleasant, N.J., in Ocean County, or, as we here like to refer to it, “The County Formerly Known as Monmouth” (Ocean County was part of Monmouth County until 1850).  She attended Point Pleasant High School, where she was the first female athlete in New Jersey history to lead her conference in scoring in three different sports, leading to all-state honors in soccer, basketball, and field hockey.  

Heavily recruited as a high school senior, Christie chose to stay close to home and attended Monmouth University in West Long Branch, class of 1999.  She was a three-sport standout in soccer, basketball, and field hockey for the Hawks, and was two-time Northeast Conference Player of the Year in soccer (1995 & 1996).  Pearce holds the Hawks’ all-time soccer scoring record with 212 points on 79 goals and 54 assists; she led the Hawks to a combined 51-11 record over her final three seasons on the pitch.

Pearce was a midfielder in college before walking on to try out for the USWNT.  She was switched to defender, where she excelled.  In addition to the USWNT, Pearce played professionally in the W-League, the top-division women’s soccer league in Australia, in 1997-98; in, 2001-03, she played in the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA), the world’s first professional women’s soccer league, and from 2009-11 in the Women’s Professional Soccer league (WPS), the top level professional women’s league in the United States.  In 2009, while playing for Sky Blue FC, she simultaneously served as coach of the club while winning the 2009 Women’s Professional Soccer Playoffs, and was named WPS Sportswoman of the Year.

Christie Pearce on Her Best Day Ever as a Professional Soccer Player

In a July 13, 2017 interview, Pearce was asked for her favorite memory from her playing career.  This is the story of her greatest day ever as a soccer player:

On Sunday, July 10, 2011, the U.S. Women’s National Team ousted Brazil in a FIFA World Cup quarterfinal in Dresden, Germany.  Pearce said it’s her favorite memory “just because it involved everything in soccer that could go wrong, that could go right.”  Pearce had to guard Marta, Brazil’s high-scoring striker, a six-time World Cup player of the year and the FIFA World Cup all-time leading scorer, who would score Brazil’s lone goal (their other score was on an own-goal).

The final score was the U.S. winning 5-3 in penalty kicks after a 2-2 tie.  Bur first, the Americans had to compete with just ten players for the final 25 minutes of regulation play, and all 30 minutes of overtime, after Rachel Buehler’s 65th-minute red card.  They overcame a 2-1 deficit to force overtime, after which they prevailed in penalty kicks.  The U.S. would lose in the World Cup final to Japan that year, on penalty kicks.  

So why was this more memorable than any of the five world championships?

“It was just a full team effort, showing that hard work and a little luck can get you into a better situation,” said Pearce.

Christie Pearce Career Awards

1992 New Jersey High School Female Athlete of the Year

1994 College Soccer Association of New Jersey – First Team

1995 Northeast Conference Player of the Year

1995 First Team All-Mid Atlantic Region

1996 Northeast Conference Player of the Year

1996 First Team All-Mid Atlantic Region

2003 Becomes the 15th player in USWNT History to achieve 100 caps

2009 Women’s Professional Soccer League All-Star selection

2009 Hint Water Sportswoman of the Year

2009 NJSWA New Jersey Sportswoman of the Year

2009 Big Apple Soccer Pro Player of the Year

2009 WPS Sportswoman of the Year

Sources:

https://monmouthhawks.com/honors/hall-of-fame/christie-pearce-rampone/50

Longman, Jere.  (2011).  With Grit and 10 Players, U.S. Women Oust Brazil.  The New York Times, July 10, 2011, Section D, P. 1.  Available: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/11/sports/soccer/2011-womens-world-cup-us-ousts-brazil-on-penalty-kicks.html

French, Scott.  (2017).  One-On-One: Christie Pearce.  Fourfourtwo.com, July 13, 2017.  Available:

https://www.fourfourtwo.com/us/features/christie-pearce-one-one-uswnt-retirement-and-life-after-divorce?page=0%2C3

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