The best day of Brittney Lewis’ life came Sunday.
On a visit with family in Canada, the junior-to-be at Aurora’s Smoky Hill High School and University of Denver soccer commit wandered down in Vancouver near BC Place to soak in the atmosphere around the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final, which pitted the U.S. women’s national team against Japan.
Inside the stadium, Lewis’ favorite player — midfielder Carli Lloyd — and the U.S. women hoped to beat Japan to bring home the country’s first World Cup championship since 1999.
Then, the unthinkable happened. A random stranger wandered up to Lewis and her family and handed over two tickets to the title game for free, telling them to “go have fun.”
“Fun” didn’t begin to describe the experience for Lewis, as she and her cousin took the tickets and sat in Section 236, Row KK, Seats 10 and 11 as part of the 53,341 people who watched the Americans roll past Japan 5-2.
Lewis sat on the end where Lloyd scored all three of her goals — including one from just inside midfield — to become the first woman in World Cup history to score a hat trick in the championship match.
“Highlight of my life and I won’t forget it!,” Lewis said in a series of Twitter messages. “Happy I got to go and watch the U.S. win…Happy to have gone & feel the vibe, and see the U.S. beat Japan as revenge! They deserved it, and they made it a great game to watch!
“Still in shock with how lucky we were to get tickets!!”
Lewis sat near a core of fans rooting for Japan — which beat the U.S. on penalty kicks in the 2011 World Cup final — so she made sure to cheer extra loud for every American goal, three by Lloyd and one each for Lauren Holiday and Tobin Heath.
A family sitting behind Lewis from Switzerland also threw their support behind the U.S.
“Every time the U.S. scored, we would be loud!” she said.
Lewis, who is a defender for the Smoky Hill team and played her way onto the Aurora Sentinel All-City Second Team for the 2015 season, couldn’t believe the performance of Lloyd, who won the Gold Ball as the tournament’s top player and the Silver Boot as its second-highest goal scorer.
“She played her heart out yesterday, and for her to get a hat track and two awards…She was the first woman ever to get a hat trick in a World Cup final! She’s an amazing player and never stops working. She carries the team!,” Lewis said.
While continuing to count herself extremely lucky, Lewis advises any sports fan to take the chance to see the World Cup in person if they can.
In 2019, that would mean a trip to France, the next destination for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, while the men’s World Cup is slated for Russia in 2018.
“If anyone ever has the chance to get to go to the World Cup, take the opportunity!” Lewis said. “It’s amazing to go watch in person and hear everyone cheer rather than sit at home and watch it on TV!”
Junior-to-be Courtney Schmidt, a standout midfielder/forward at Cherokee Trail, also attended the World Cup final along with her mother, using tickets they’d secured prior to the start of the World Cup.
“We would have gone even if the U.S. didn’t make it, but it made it a lot more fun that they did,” Schmidt said in a message.
Schmidt’s favorite player on the national team is Megan Rapinoe and she ended up getting her autograph to highlight the experience.
“Being at that game was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever done,” Schmidt added.
— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes