It took years to plan, months of waiting and days to drive and fly, but it was worth it as a pair of Lewiston soccer fans saw one of the greatest moments in U.S. women’s soccer history live Sunday night in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Christy Gardner and Mariah Carrier — and Moxie, Gardner’s service dog — were among the more than 50,000 fans packed into BC Place to watch the U.S. Women’s soccer team defeat Japan 5-2 to win the World Cup for the third time, and first since 1999.

“It was unreal,” Gardner said from Vancouver following the game. “I was hoping to win, but never in my wildest dreams expected it to be like that.”

At the stadium well in advance, it only took five minutes for the U.S. to build a 2-0 lead. By the 17th minute, it was 4-0.

“To score so much and basically decide the game so early was both exciting and relieving at the same time,” Gardner said.

Making the journey that much sweeter for Gardner was the fact that she, too, is a Team USA athlete, competing on the women’s sled hockey team with aspirations of playing in the Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang in 2018.


“Being on Team USA absolutely makes this much sweeter,” Gardner said. “You can relate to what the athletes go through in terms of training and the jitters they feel before the game, and then how it feels to win with all of the excitement, dancing around on the field.”

The trip itself originated as a Christmas present from Gardner to Carrier. Once the location for the semifinals and final were set, Gardner started looking for tickets.

“Been planning for years,” Gardner said. “Mariah is an even bigger fan than I am, so it was always her dream to attend. I got the tickets for Christmas.”

The two friends drove to Montreal for the semifinal match betwene the U.S. and Germany. Then, it was a quick turnaround to Vancouver.

“We got to the hotel in Montreal after the game at 12 a.m.,” Gardner said, “And we were up at 4 a.m. to head to the airport and flew to Vancouver the next morning.”

And of course the trip was complete with Moxie, Gardner’s service dog, along for the ride.


Gardner is a veteran who suffered numerous injuries during a mission in Korea in 2006. Overcoming long odds, she has resumed most normal daily activities. Recently, she underwent surgery to remove one of her legs. She also has a condition that leaves her prone to seizures.

Moxie is trained to keep watch over Gardner, signaling her with a tug on the arm is she senses a seizure, or that she needs rest.

The large crowds didn’t seem to faze the furry companion, but the heat did.

“Moxie napped some, since she’s used to crowds,” Gardner said. “But she was hot and panting. We kept having to buy her water and ice.”

A small price to pay, for sure, to ensure nothing went wrong.

And while this year’s journey was certainly the trip of a lifetime, it won’t be the only one. Gardner said the wheels are already spinning for 2019.

“It was certainly a once in a lifetime feeling, but we’re already looking forward to 2019 in France and meeting up again with some new friends we made on the trip.”

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