Missouri State's Mayne-Nicholls Attends World Cup Matches
It is the biggest soccer event in the world and it only occurs every four years. It is the FIFA World Cup which just ended in South Africa, and one Missouri State soccer player was there.
Michelle Mayne-Nicholls will be a freshman on the Missouri State women's soccer team this fall, and she was in South Africa for two weeks taking in the sights and sounds of World Cup soccer.
"This trip to the World Cup was a graduation gift from my dad," said Mayne-Nicholls. "My dad took my sister to the World Cup in Germany in 2006, so this time around it was my turn to go."
Mayne-Nicholls and her father landed in Johannesburg after a 22 hour flight and were met at the gate by family and friends from Chile. The trip was very much like a family reunion for her.
"It was so much fun getting to see family while at the World Cup," stated Mayne-Nicholls.
During her stay in South Africa, she was able to attend four matches with family and friends. Her main rooting interests were in the United States and Chile, a country where she lived for five years growing up.
"My uncle (Harold Mayne-Nicholls) is the president of the Chilean Soccer Federation and he was able to get us tickets to the matches," continued Mayne-Nicholls. She attended all three of Chile's Group H matches, including a match against eventual-champion Spain. In addition, she was able to attend the Australia-Serbia to wrap up Group D play.
"The whole World Cup experience was incredible," exclaimed Mayne-Nicholls. "We were so close to the field that we could see the facial features of the players and coaches. It was incredibly loud, but still the atmosphere was great."
Aside from soccer matches, Mayne-Nicholls got to experience the culture of South Africa. "We went to Kruger National Park, which was amazing," remarked Mayne-Nicholls. "It is so unlike a zoo, you are actually in the animals' environment."
She also went to Mozambique and witnessed many other cultural elements of the area. "It was really eye-opening to see how different things are over there," added Mayne-Nicholls.
Mayne-Nicholls has been playing soccer since she was first able to run. Her father played soccer collegiately at Jacksonville University and taught her the game at an early age. When she lived in Chile, she began playing in a team atmosphere and began playing for a club team in Florida at the age of nine.
She became interested in Missouri State after she attended an indoor soccer showcase in Springfield and caught the eye of former Bears' assistant Chip Dutchik. MSU head coach Rob Brewer followed her playing career at Rogers High School since and Mayne-Nicholls said coming to Missouri State "was an easy choice".
At Rogers High, Mayne-Nicholls was a three-year starter and was named team captain her final two seasons. She was named team offensive player of the year after scoring seven goals and registering seven assists her senior season. She was also named to the all-conference, all-state and all-tournament teams her senior year. She was team goal scorer of the year and an all-conference honoree after tallying 18 goals and 10 assists to lead her team to fourth in state her junior season. Her sophomore campaign produced five goals and eight assists for a team that finished second in conference and third in state. She scored four goals and added six assists during her freshman season to help the Lady Mounties go 7-0 in conference. She was also part of the Chilean U17 and U20 Women's National Team pool.
"The pace of the game at that level (World Cup) is incredible," replied Mayne-Nicholls. "The players are never idle or walking, they are always involved in every play." She said that this level of competitiveness will help her get focused and ready for the upcoming season and transition to Division I soccer.
She and the Bears will host Central Missouri and Drury for exhibition matches on August 16 and 19, respectively, both matches at 7:00 p.m. The regular-season home opener will be on August 27 against UALR also at 7:00 p.m.
The view from Mayne-Nicholls' seats at the World Cup.
Mayne-Nicholls at the World Cup.