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Local Fans Watch Tobin Heath in World Cup Loss

2006 Ridge High grad, American women's soccer team fall to Japan on penalty kicks.

Editor's note: The Basking Ridge Patch will later feature photos and video of local fans watching Sunday's World Cup Title at the Station Pub & Grub in Bernardsville and at The Ridge Tavern in downtown Basking Ridge. 

Fans at area bars cheered on the U.S. women's soccer team—which included Basking Ridge native Tobin Heath—during Sunday's World Cup championship match in Germany.

The Americans, however, lost 3-2 on penalty kicks.

Two of the fans at the Station Pub & Grub in Bernardsville had attended Ridge High School at the same time as Heath, who graduated from the school in 2006.

"It's just really cool to know someone who's in something so well known," said Kristin Pignio, of Basking Ridge, a 2006 graduate who was watching the game with township resident Avery Hilton, who graduated from Ridge in 2005.

Pignio said she was in a few classes with Heath, while Hilton said she was on the bus line with the Ridge soccer star.

After graduating from Ridge, Heath went on to have a successful collegiate career at the University of North Carolina before embarking on a professional career that included competing in the Olympics.

Heath was one of the U.S. players who attempted to pull the team ahead again, after Sunday's overtime match ended with a 2-2 tie. She missed one of the team's attempted penalty kicks before Japan secured a 3-1 lead in penalty kicks.

Heath, 23, was a sub in the game, and came onto the field for the extra periods after game initially ended in a 1-1 tie.

At the Station Pub & Grub, Richie Chaparro, of Bernardsville, said he had heard beforehand that someone local was in the World Cup match. "It's good to have someone to represent our town," he said.

However, he said he wasn't surprised that someone from the area was on the team—he said there were other players on the girls soccer team at Bernards High School in Bernardsville who had displayed talent.

Jason Ricci, of Basking Ridge, was watching the match with a group that included a viewer who grew up in Rochester, N.Y., hometown of another player on the women's team, Abby Wambach. Wambach scored one of the goals for the U.S.

"It is amazing to find out someone from here is playing there," saidRicci, who said he has lived in Bernards for about three years.

Walter Gavurnick, of Bernardsville, agreed that it was "cool" to have someone from the area playing in the game. But he added that he was actually following the Mets game on another television over the bar.

Over at The Ridge Tavern in Basking Ridge, Rusty Cook said he likes sports in general, and wasn't really watching the game because of Heath.

But Cook, a Basking Ridge resident who is employed for the road department in Bernardsville, said he believes that interest in soccer is growing in the area, partially because of an influx of residents from countries such as Ecuador and Paraguay, where soccer is more prominent.

Rich Shello, athletic director at Ridge High School, earlier this week said that since she left the high school.

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