DRESDEN, Germany – United States midfielder Heather O'Reilly revealed how her fiancé's romantic and elaborate marriage proposal has given her extra motivation to win the Women's World Cup.
O'Reilly played a key role in Sunday's breathtaking quarterfinal victory over Brazil and hopes to make 2011 a year to remember by walking down the aisle – and lifting the World Cup trophy – to wed Dave Werry later in the year.
Werry, a former lacrosse player, met O'Reilly when they were both at the University of North Carolina, where she helped the Tar Heels win two national championships. In the buildup to the tournament, he popped the question in unforgettable style.
"We were back at Chapel Hill for a weekend, just visiting some friends," said O'Reilly who has been a part of the national team since she was in high school and won Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2008. "We went on a jog together around campus and we went onto the North Carolina baby blue track. As we were looping around to go back to the house I saw Tom Sander, the manager of the North Carolina women's soccer team, crouching with a camera.
"Then Dave turned my attention to the big scoreboard, which said 'Will you marry me' – then got down on one knee and did his thing, and of course I said yes. Tom has a video of it – but no one will see that until the wedding."
O'Reilly plays her club soccer in Women's Professional Soccer with New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC, meaning she has been able to spend more time with Werry, who is a New York investment executive. In previous years, she was stationed in Los Angeles as part of the national team's residency program.
"Having the support of someone special definitely adds motivation and makes things in your career a lot easier," O'Reilly said.
The USA is the favorite to beat France in Wednesday's semifinal in Moenchengladbach. The winner will face either Sweden or Japan in Sunday's final, and with Germany and Brazil already out, the Americans have a tremendous chance to win the tournament for the first time since 1999.
"We are not focusing so much on what winning would mean but on the winning itself," O'Reilly said. "We don't feel like we are done yet. We want to go all the way and win it and the by-product of that will be pretty cool."