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How Emily Sonnett approached ‘wild’ USWNT World Cup debut

Emily Sonnett made her first World Cup start for the USWNT against Sweden in the Round of 16. (Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

Emily Sonnett has been through a lot of changes in the last 12 months.

From being traded to OL Reign to making a position switch at the World Cup, the 29-year-old has stepped into every role with grace, even in nerve-racking circumstances.

Take the 2023 World Cup: She made her debut as a starter in the Round of 16, but did so as a defensive midfielder rather than in her traditional role as a defender. She played a full 120 minutes against Sweden, even though up to that match she had played just seven minutes as a substitute.

But in those 120 minutes, “Snacks” co-host Lynn Williams said, Sonnett provided a boost.

“You played 120 minutes and were kind of the anchor to the team in that moment,” she said.

To Sonnett, playing 120 minutes was “wild.”

“I was like, oh my gosh,” she said.

She doesn’t quite know how she did it in the moment, other than sheer will and maybe “blacking out.” But she did it well, creating several opportunities for the team in the midfield while also locking it down defensively.

“That was fun though. It was kind of a moment in my career where it was like, this is kind of it,” she said. “You gotta either do really well or do really bad. Working in sports, I’m staying ready for that moment, so I’m thinking that mental preparation helped me for that moment.”