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A great day for soccer fans poured out onto Hertel Avenue

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Mike Desmond
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WBFO News

The cheers rang out in two Hertel Avenue bars early Sunday afternoon, as the U.S. Women's World Cup team again won the title of the best in the world.

Bars known as hospitable to soccer fans were packed Sunday with noisy fans, chanting, singing, even waving cowbells. That's what fans were going at Wine on Hertel, many in the jerseys of their favorite players and favorite teams and full-throatedly cheering when Megan Rapinoe scored the initial goal.

Gino Pinzone was at Wine, admitting he changed who he was supporting, at least for one day.

"I usually cheer for a team in Italy, AC Milan. That's my team," Pinzone said. "But today, forget about that. Today, it's all about the American girls winning. That's all we want today."

Mes Que, just down the street, overflowed onto an outside seating area with its own large TV and standing-room-only crowd getting service in the bright sunlight and watching the game from Lyon, France. The bar erupted when Rose Lavelle of the U.S. Women's World Cup team scored the insurance second goal, which guaranteed the team its second consecutive trophy.

Mes Que manager Nathaniel Nixon said the support was clear.

"It's nice to see people out here, supporting the women," he said. "I think that they're gaining a great following and obviously they're a great team."

While the women stormed through the tournament, they were dealing with the traditional soccer powers of European men's football pouring resources into their women's teams.

The event also brought out sports fans who weren't always soccer fans, like Karolina Bazylewicz.

"Very exciting. Very awesome to see," she said. "I'm not a huge soccer fan, but I watched semifinals and I saw Rapinoe wasn't in there and they still won. And I saw Rapinoe in this game and it was amazing and they did awesome. It was great to see for the women and for the U.S."

Bazylewicz understands competition, as a former varsity swimmer at Niagara University. The U.S. team had to fight through Spain, England and Holland to hoist the championship trophy.

"It's the weather, the time, obviously the holiday weekend," Nixon said. "It all came into play and it's a great turnout."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.