Norway out of the Women’s World Cup

Norway eliminated after a 1-2 loss to England

Photo:  Norway’s 2015 World Cup team was fired up to win, but ended up eliminated by England.

Norway’s 2015 World Cup team was fired up to win, but ended up eliminated by England.

Molly Jones
Norwegian American Weekly

The Norwegian women’s soccer team started strong in the 2015 FIFA World Cup, earning two wins and a draw in the group stage. They crushed Thailand 4-0 on June 7, tied 1-1 with tournament favorite Germany on June 11, and beat Ivory Coast 3-1 in their last group match on June 15. With seven points, Norway advanced to the knockout stage.

England’s 2-1 defeat over Colombia on June 17 determined that Norway would be facing the English team in the round-of-16 match. Norway was optimistic about their chances against England. “We think we can defeat England. We are very pleased that we will play them,” said coach Even Pellerud. Assistant coach Roger Finford added: “Our strengths suit the English weaknesses.”

On June 22, Norway and England faced off in the knockout stage in Ottawa. In this stage of the World Cup, the losing team is eliminated and the winning team moves on to the quarter finals.

The Norwegian women began as the stronger team in the first half and created many opportunities to score. Both Isabell Herlovsen and Ada Stolsmo Hegerberg had chances to shoot, but England’s keeper Karen Bardsley was able to protect England’s goal. At halftime, the game remained scoreless.

In the 53rd minute, Solveig Gulbrandsen scored with a perfect header off of Lene Mykjaland’s corner kick, giving Norway a 1-0 lead. But Norway didn’t retain the lead for long. Just seven minutes later, England’s Stephanie Houghton also scored with a header from a corner.

Now a tie game, England capitalized on Norway’s energy from the first half. England’s Lucy Bronze shot from 25 meters into the top right corner of the net, just over keeper Ingrid Hjelmseth’s fingertips, for the match’s final goal.

With a disappointing 2-1 loss, Norway was eliminated from the World Cup. The Norwegian team is of course frustrated with their defeat, especially because most feel Norway played the better game overall.

“The team needs to play better. But we had good chances, and that’s why it is so disappointing that we lost this way,” says Hegerberg. Pellerud agrees: “We felt much better than them. That’s what makes it so terribly disappointing, we felt like we had the game. Traveling home feels wrong right now.”

But despite their elimination from the World Cup, the Norwegian team continues to represent women’s soccer by combating prejudices against the sport. As part of the NRK comedy series Helt Ramm, a few of the players participated in a parody documentary that ridiculed common prejudices, titled “Dokument Ramm: Erkjennelsen.”

“Female soccer players in Norway have always had to fight prejudice. They’ve fought back for years, but now they finally admit it is all true,” begins the video with somber music playing in the background. Nicolay Ramm interviews the athletes, who confirm these prejudices through their deadpan acting.

“We’re terrible,” says captain Trine Rønning, while forward Emilie Haavi struggles to explain the rules of the game. The veteran keeper Ingrid Hjelmseth describes goal kicks as her nightmare and suggests having two goalies. Midfielder Cathrine Dekkerhus says she had to switch teams after her teammates fell in love with her.

The mockumentary became so popular that Gulbrandsen asked Ramm to add English subtitles. It quickly spread internationally and was shared in the New York Times and the Guardian, among other news sources.

Rønning believes that women’s soccer has come a long way since she started playing two decades ago, but that there is still a long way to go.

Of the prejudice addressed in the video, she says: “It is there all the time. It has become less and less, but it hasn’t been that long since you were hesitant to answer when people asked what you did. ‘No, I play soccer’—it was not so easy to say. Now you can say it with more pride because the prejudices are going away.”

“A lot has happened. The game itself is much faster. The players have more technique, the management of the clubs is more professional, and the interest is bigger,” she continues.

Although Norway is out of the competition for now, there is hope that they will help to advance the sport for the benefit of women’s soccer in Norway and internationally.

This article originally appeared in the July 3, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.