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Commentary: Soccer semifinal puts Colorado talent on display

Arielle Orsuto explains the significance between two local players against each other in the Olympic hunt.

DENVER — Monday morning's soccer semifinal will feature two Colorado friends facing off as foes. 

Lindsey Horan, a midfielder from Golden, is a usual starter for the United States.

On the other side, the 2012 Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year from Valor Christian, is Janine Beckie, forward for the Canadian national team.

So how did we get here?

Beckie was cut from the under 20 (United States) national team, and thanks to her dual citizenship was scooped up by her other home nation. More importantly, how did we get two Colorado players from the same graduation year to end up on the biggest stage?

That's thanks to policy -- and investment.

Soccer is not a new sport, but it is to American women. Before Title IX was created in 1972, NFHS reports only 700 girls participated nationwide.

Fast forward to the first world cup in 1991 -- you can tack on 120,000 to the front of that original number.

You can argue that Horan and some of the top players on the U.S. team never played for their high school, but here's what title nine did for them. It offered them an opportunity -- to play the sport they loved equitably at colleges -- to earn recognition -- and to now be the inspiration for the next generation.

So when the Olympics come back in only three years don't be surprised when you see the participation numbers increase at the youth level. The competition get even more fierce at the national team level, and don't be surprised when I tell you there will be even more Colorado talent representing the stars and stripes.

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