Friends living a fantasy

Ellen Geyer
Canada's Nichelle Prince, right, celebrates after scoring for the first time in the Women's World Cup in Canada's 2-0 win over New Zealand on June 15. [Francisco Seco/The Associated Press]

Not all people have the opportunity to chase their dreams. Even fewer get to do it with their best friends. Lindsay Agnew and Nichelle Prince are the exception.

The soccer players, who met at an under-17 Canadian national team camp, always find their way back to each other. After four years together as teammates and roommates at Ohio State, both progressed to the National Women’s Soccer League in 2017.

They found themselves separated after Agnew was drafted by the Washington Spirit and Prince landed with the Houston Dash, but a trade in January 2018 sent Agnew to Houston, where the two have played together as professionals ever since.

Now, on the world’s biggest stage, the former Buckeyes are again reunited, representing Canada at the Women’s World Cup.

“It’s funny because when we were in college, we used to always talk about how it’d be so cool to play on the national team together. You map out everything you want to do when you get older,” Prince said. “We talked about how we wanted to be at this World Cup and planned to be at the next Olympics, and so it’s kind of cool to see the things we dreamed about coming true.”

Agnew practically pinches herself when she considers the opportunity.

“Not many people get to play with their best friend, and I’ve gotten to play with her now since we were 16,” the 24-year-old Agnew said. “Soccer has so many ups and downs and some people don’t understand how tough it can be. … Her friendship is invaluable to me.”

Agnew, a forward-turned-defender, and Prince, a forward, have been in and out of international competition since meeting eight years ago.

Prince also played in the 2016 Summer Olympics, earning a bronze medal and appearing as a substitute in three of the Canada's six games. This year in France, the 24-year-old is enjoying a new experience.

“I was on the last Olympic team and I had a different role at that time. Making this team — it’s just a different feeling,” Prince said. “I’ve been on the team for a while now, and this tournament is different for me … ”

“Because she’s a starter!” Agnew interjected.

Prince started in both of Canada’s first two group-stage games, a 1-0 win over Cameroon and a 2-0 victory over New Zealand. She scored her first World Cup goal against New Zealand, putting in a rebound in the 79th minute to make it a two-goal lead.

Agnew has yet to make her World Cup debut. Canada finishes group-stage play Thursday against the Netherlands.

Agnew, who just missed making the Olympic team in 2016, said that finding out she made the roster this year was particularly special.

“I definitely had that emotional moment,” she said. “It’s not easy to get here, and there’s a million other people that want to be here. I was able to reflect on the ups and downs.”

Having grown together as friends and as athletes, Agnew and Prince see how valuable the other’s presence is on the team.

“Nichelle is definitely the quick, speedy forward that everybody needs on a team. … She’s a goal scorer,” Agnew said. “Off the field, everybody likes Nichelle.”

Of Agnew, Prince said, “She’s such a versatile player and someone you can count on in a lot of different positions. Off the field, Lindsay’s just always fun … such a positive person in the locker room when you need that pickup, when you need that confidence.”

As for their ultimate goal in this tournament, neither Agnew nor Prince minced words.

“We want to be No. 1,” Prince said.

“Our end goal,” Agnew added, “is to be holding the trophy at the end of the summer.”



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