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Soccer Reaps Record Ratings

It was a sight not many people thought they'd see: The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team brought home the world championship cup in a heart-stopping victory this weekend. CBS This Morning Co-Anchor Mark McEwen spoke with some elated key players.



ABC's telecast for the United States' victory over China in the Women's World Cup title match Saturday was the most-watched soccer game on U.S. network television, with ABC estimating an audience of 40 million. The game posted a 13.3 overnight rating and a 32 share for the network, 4 percent more than the previous record, a 12.8 for the 1994 men's World Cup final.

The rating is the percentage of TV households in the United States tuned to a program, and each point represents 994,000 homes.

The team had scored the world championship before in 1991, but this time the welcoming crowd was considerably warmer - and larger.

"Man, there are a [lot] of differences," team forward Mia Hamm recalled. "There were two people that met us at the airport [in 1991]," she said. "And now, we have a parade at Disneyland. We're talking about going to New York tonight and doing all these things. It's been tremendous, the response that we've gotten."

But what was Brandi Chastain, who plays defense for the team, thinking about as she lined up the kick?

"Absolutely nothing," she said, drawing laughter from her teammates. "There was no pressure, because they had done such a great job scoring...before me. Actually, it was amazing, because as I was walking up, I'm thinking, 'Just don't look her in the eye, because she just wants you to. And she just wants to get in your head.' And I said, 'I'm not going to look at her.'"

"And as soon as I put it down, it was just silent," she said. "It was just me and the ball. The whistle blew, and I hit it. And the next thing I knew, it was hitting the net. And then it was like insanity, just like the crowd going crazy. These guys coming over, jumping on me, just like unbelievable."

Chastain shed her jersey, swinging it over her head, after kicking the winning goal in the 5-4 victory over China. "It was kind of a release," she said. "Letting go of the weight that's been on our shoulders this whole tournament, just kind of shedding that weight and saying,...'We're here to have fun, and we're letting loose.' And that's all it was."

So did anyone on the team get any sleep after their victory?

"I was about the only one," offered Hamm.

Now crowds greet the players everywhere they go.

"It's nuts, and it's so awesome," said Kristine Lilly, midfielder. "What's so great about it is that we're enjoying it with people. This is new to us. It's new to them. And it's something that we're sharing with everyone."

Among the spectators cheering the team to victory was President Clinton, who congratulated both the U.S. and China teams afterward. "It wa great having the president support us like that," said goalie Briana Scurry.

"I just think that it's important that the people who invested in us in the beginning - now they know what we're worth." said Tiffeny Milbrett, team forward. "And the people who didn't - they really know what we're worth."

"And I think just as long as they keep giving to us, we'll keep giving it back twofold, tenfold," Milbrett declared. "I think that's what's going to keep it going."

But the team is perhaps most gratified by their influence on young girls.

"I think it just gives them another opportunity to feel good about themselves," said Hamm. "Throughout the entire tournament, you heard girls saying, 'I'm going to be on the national team. I'm going to be out there.' And they were saying [Saturday], 'I'm going to be a world champion.' And that makes us all feel incredibly good."

For now, the women are on a whirlwind tour including Disneyland, downtown Los Angeles and television appearances in New York.

More personal appearances are scheduled, with several players appearing in golf pro-ams preceding PGA and LPGA events. Television and print ads are planned.

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