When the United States Women’s National Team took the field on September 20, 2008 against Ireland in Bridgeview, Illinois, one of the defenders on the team was beginning the twilight of her career. Kate Markgraf, a long-time defender who was a member of the 99ers (the 1999 Women’s World Cup champions), was fresh off winning a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics and hoping to possibly be a part of the team as they began the road to the 2011 Women’s World Cup.
The friendly match against Ireland had the USWNT looking to make history. A victory would be their record 29th of the calendar year, and the team was focused on making that history. In the 19th minute, Carli Lloyd found Lindsay Tarpley inside the box, who set up Lori Chalupny for the game’s first goal. Just 11 minutes later, Natasha Kai found the ball inside the box, but was taken down as she tried a turn-and-shoot. The referee pointed to the spot for a penalty kick.
Immediately, the team turned to Markgraf, who was at midfield, and motioned for her to come up and take the kick. In her 192nd cap for the USWNT, Markgraf was going to have her chance to score her first goal. Markgraf would later comment on the occasion: “For the past 10 years, any time we’ve had a penalty opportunity that wasn’t in a major tournament they’ve tried to get me to take one. Today I finally caved and said ‘okay, I’ll take one today.’” With the match being in Chicago (Markgraf would go on to play in WPS for the Chicago Red Stars), there was that added element, but as she put it, “I also had to get rid of the pressure! Natasha Kai probably put the most pressure on me. She would always say ‘I’m getting you a PK!’”
Kate Markgraf lined up the ball on the penalty spot, and the rest was history:
It was the 2nd goal in the match and that score would hold up until the end. It was a 2-0 victory for the USWNT, but it was Markgraf’s goal that was the highlight. Her 192-match scoreless streak is the most caps by a USWNT player without scoring a goal. It was the only goal of her career, an illustrious career that ended in 2010 with 201 caps. However, that night in Bridgeview, Illinois will forever live as the night that she stepped up to the penalty spot and scored like she had done it 1000 times.