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Carla Overbeck - July HOF Member of the Month

By Helen Ross and Rick Strunk, 07/17/19, 7:15PM EDT


She also was captain of the United States team that defeated China 5-4...

Before there was Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan, there was Carla Overbeck.

The former UNC women’s soccer All-American played every minute of every game in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She also was captain of the United States team that defeated China 5-4 in a stunning penalty shootout after a scoreless draw – a game witnessed by more than 90,000 people at the Rose Bowl that altered the perceptions of women’s soccer forever. She even made the first kick in the decisive shootout.

The slogan of that tournament was “This is my game. This is my future. Watch me play.”

And young girls who loved soccer like Becky Sauerbrunn did. She was 14 in 1999 and went to Chicago to watch the U.S. play Nigeria in the World Cup group stage. The atmosphere was electric, and she watched Overbeck intently.

“There's something so powerful about seeing soccer live, witnessing the nuances and subtleties of the players that can go unnoticed on the TV,” Sauerbrunn wrote to Overbeck in a first-person piece on ESPN last month.

“Even at a young age I was drawn to those understated aspects of the game. My friends were into the players that had a louder on-field presence like Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain. You were efficient, smart, competitive. All the things I wanted to be as a player.”

In recognition of her talent and the inspiration she provided to players like Sauerbrunn – who joined Rapinoe, Lloyd and Morgan on the U.S. team that beat The Netherlands 2-0 for the World Cup title earlier this month – Overbeck is the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame Member of the Month.

Overbeck, who has been an assistant coach at Duke for the last 27 years, was one of the leaders of Team USA during her playing career that ran from 1988-2000. She was a member of three World Cup and two Olympic teams, and also represented the U.S. in the Goodwill Games.

According to her biography on the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame website, former U.S. coach Tony DeCicco once said of Overbeck, “Carla developed the culture of the national team. She had a tremendous winning mentality.”

At one point, Overbeck played in 63 straight international matches, which is a record – for men or women – on a U.S. national soccer team. Another record? Well, Overbeck once played 3,547 consecutive minutes, playing against teams from 19 different countries and in six different nations.

Overbeck’s collegiate career at the University of North Carolina was equally impressive.

She was selected as an All-American three times by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. She played on four Tar Heel teams that went unbeaten in 95 games from 1986-89 and was selected as the Most Valuable Defensive Player in the 1988 NCAA Tournament.

Overbeck, who earned a degree in psychology in 1990 from UNC, played club soccer for the Dallas Sting starting at the age of 11 and later played professionally for the Carolina Courage of the WUSA, the first professional soccer league for women in the United States. She helped the Courage win the league’s 2002 championship.

She was elected to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2010, four years after she was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

For more information on Overbeck, click here.