Many on this side of the Atlantic might have missed the weekend’s most consequential sporting event. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands did not.
Other weekend events such as Wimbledon, the U.S Women’s Open or the NWSL settled championships and continued seasons. What happened in Holland could change a culture.
With the royal couple in attendance in the Dutch city of Utrecht on Sunday, the Netherlands beat Norway 1-0 in the opening game of group play in the UEFA Women’s European Championship. A capacity crowd of more than 16,000 also watched the host; players clad in the orange jerseys long ago made famous in soccer by the Dutch men’s teams. The result was a mild upset in the 16-team, three-week tournament, even on home soil. The Netherlands had just one previous win in a competitive game against Norway, a perennial, if perhaps fading, power in women’s soccer that has at its disposal reigning European player of the year Ada Hegerberg.
But the Dutch earned the result. They nearly scored in the opening minute with a lightning strike reminiscent of a goal scored against the U.S. women last fall. Lieke Martens, Vivianne Miedema and Shanice van de Sanden battered the Norwegians with scoring chances until van se Sanden headed home the only goal early in the second half on a cross from Martens.
The win made it more likely that the Dutch will emerge from a difficult group along with one of Belgium, Denmark and Norway to reach the quarterfinals. It increased the chances of winning the group, thereby potentially avoiding Germany in that quarterfinal.
It made a Dutch run deep into the tournament possible. And that could forever change women’s soccer in a country obsessed with the sport.
This has happened before. Now arguably the tournament’s co-favorite, or at least the biggest threat to…