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My Favorite Story of 2018: The AS Roma Women's Team

They're everything I never knew I wanted.

AS Roma

As you may have noticed from the breadth of our coverage, I've become quite taken with AS Roma's women's team, the Giallorosse. I'll readily admit that, prior to their formation, I wasn't exactly up on women's professional football. As an American, I would follow the Women's World Cup with aplomb every four years, and became quite a fan of Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe, among others, but that was that; my fandom didn't extend beyond the World Cup.

And it only recently dawned on me why. While I respected and admired their talent, outside of that specific setting, playing for our country, I had no real emotional connection to them. For the most part, I knew their club teams, but, much like my pre-Roma days in general, there was simply nothing pulling me in; no deeper impetus calling me to follow them.

So, when I caught wind that Roma was extending their family to the women's Serie A, my interest was piqued. Considering my ignorance to the league in general, not to mention the fact that this was, quite literally, an expansion team, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Would they be any good? Were they destined to break my heart like the men's team? Did they have neck tattoos?

I had no idea whatsoever, but the math was simple: football + Roma, so I decided to dive in headlong into this new venture, knowing full well that anything remotely related to Roma is best taken in small doses. And when Betty Bavagnoli's team started off 0-3, it seemed like my worst fears came home to roost; they were Roma so I already loved them, but, man, did I really need twice the heartbreak on a weekly basis?

However, watching Giada Greggi tear through the midfield, staring in awe as Agnese Bonfantini danced around defenders, or marveling at Annamaria Serturini's nose for goal gave me hope in the midst of that losing skid. This team, which was all of three weeks old, already had an identity; they were quick, they were direct, they were strong, and best of all they cared, displaying the passion and grinta we've come to expect from the men (and now women) lucky enough to wear this shirt.

As we cautioned all along, it was only a matter of time before those disparate parts coalesced into an efficient and effective attacking machine, and as late summer gave way to fall, a deluge of goals (and wins) was quick to follow. Led by Serturini, the Roma ragazze went on a tear, winning seven of their next ten matches and playing league leaders AC Milan and Fiorentina incredibly tight in a loss and draw, respectively, vaulting themselves into the top half of the table in the process.

Between Greggi, Serturini, Bonfantini, Vanessa Bernauer and Martina Piemonte, among others, Roma's attack is absolutely relentless. If Bernauer can't pick you apart with a pass, Greggi will just blow past you, while the combination of Bonfantini and Serturini swirling around Piemonte in the middle keeps even the best of defenses at sixes and sevens. And if that weren't enough, Elisa Bartoli and Emma Lipman have the back end absolutely locked down.

I could go on, and there are certainly several additional names worthy of praise, but the results don't really matter in this context: the pride and passion of this team alone is worthy of your attention, but trust me...they're absolutely loaded with talent.

The Roma women were a bright spot for me in 2018, and while they may not win the Scudetto this year, something tells me it won't be long before they do.