TAMPA, Fla. — The 2019 U.S. Women’s World Cup is officially underway and we here in Tampa Bay have many reasons to cheer. The U.S. has sent a standout team positioned to do well, and five USF stand-outs are also taking the field for different countries. 

It is the most players the school has ever sent to the international tournament.

The USF women’s soccer co-head coaches can hardly peel their eyes away from the TV.

“It’s like a little nerve-wracking, you know. Because you spend four years with these players ... and they’re like your kids,” explained associate head coach Chris Brown.

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Current student-athletes view it as a testament to the program. 

“It proves that USF is a school to go to for women’s soccer,” said outside back Cameron Lizardi.

For head coaches Denise and Chris Brown, cheering for their former players feels like watching family, because -- well, they are a family. Players believe that dynamic adds to the program’s success.

“I think it’s honestly crazy that our head coach is Denise, which she’s a woman. And her assistant is Coach Brown, which is her husband,” said center back Chyanne Dennis. "So like, I feel like it’s that atmosphere that of a family atmosphere is what makes it so good to come here."

Like parents, the coaches can’t choose just one team to root for and they can’t help but watch their girls. 

“We’re parents, too, of soccer players and when you watch your kids, it’s hard not to follow the game as you do as a coach 'cause your kids on the field. And it’s similar when you are watching the World Cup because tactically you want to take in the game,” explained Denise Brown. “But because you have a player in there that you care about, it's hard to not be so focused on them.”

With five former players competing, the pair is having a hard time picking who they want to win and lose. They texted all of the girls before the Cup started to wish them luck and pass along some coach advice. 

“Just really enjoy the moment. Because this could be the one time they get to do this.”

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