Jersey Pride: Rutgers women’s soccer team heads to national semifinals
The Rutgers University women’s soccer team is in the national semifinals.
The women’s soccer team was the last team at Rutgers to make the Final Four six years ago.
Now the team is trying to show the nation what it means to be an athlete from New Jersey.
“There’s something about just the way Jersey players play and that every time we like step out on to the pitch wearing the Rutgers jersey, we always want people’s respect,” says senior defender Shea Holland.
And the team is getting that respect. Twenty-three of the team’s 28 players call New Jersey home.
“It’s just like a bit of a pride, Jersey grit. Even our out-of-state girls, you know, they come in and we kinda make ‘em Jersey,” says senior goalkeeper Meagan McClelland.
Their breakout season was during the COVID-19 pandemic. And while parents had to watch from home last year, they are taking advantage of it now with pre- and post-game tailgates, road trips and making their presence known in places like Ann Arbor by flying the school flags.
“We’ve had some inspiring parents. They get there six hours before the game,” says Holland’s father Michael Holland.
“Yeah, tailgates wouldn’t be the tailgate without Meg’s dad’s flags flying high in the parking lot,” says Holland’s mother Donna Holland.
Fans have shown up too. More than 5,000 at one game – a record for their home field which goes back nearly 30 years.
And win or lose at the College Cup, people will be talking about this team for years to come.
“Any of the players I could be speechless. I get goosebumps just even being an athlete to get to this level I’m proud of all of them. It’s very exciting,” says Michael Holland.
Rutgers plays Florida State Friday night at 7 p.m. Santa Clara versus BYU is the other semifinal.