SANTA CLARA (KPIX) — The National Champion Santa Clara Women’s soccer team returned home Tuesday afternoon, and what they did for themselves and their community is nothing short of amazing.
Amid chants of “S-C-U! S-C-U!” the bus pulled in to campus, bringing the team and the national championship trophy home to a hero’s welcome.READ MORE: Most U.S Metro Areas More Segregated Than Decades Ago; Interactive Map Illustrates Divide
Students and fellow athletes formed a cheering gauntlet, welcoming the team that had endured so much: playing only seven games before the tournament, getting ranked 11th and having to knock off both the Number 1 and 2 seeds before defeating the Florida State Seminoles in overtime with penalty kicks.
Coach Jerry Smith thinks it was all meant to be.
“Our players had a ‘We’re not gonna lose’ attitude.,” Smith said. “A lot of grit, a lot of heart, a lot of determination. And, I think, honestly, that was built up from the toughness that we had to endure for the last 14 months.”
But despite the three-week bubble they endured at the tournament, they were never really alone. The school and the community joined them on the journey and celebrated as if they had won the game themselves.
“Pretty much everybody I know watched the game in their home or in huge groups. And then when they won, everyone ran out to our main frat street, Bellarmine, and burned couches,” said SCU student Annika Disney with a laugh. “I think everyone’s really proud to be a Bronco right now, for sure.”READ MORE: Former Broadmoor Police Chief Michael Connolly Charged With Conflict Of Interest
The final game was a nail biter, with the Broncos having to come from behind to win.
“As soon as we scored that goal, tying it up, I knew that we were back in it,” said Broncos forward Julie Doyle. “And I just knew that we were going to be national champions from that moment. I knew.”
It was an accomplishment that anyone who played a sport this year can appreciate.
“All the athletes here, we’ve all been though a lot,” said student athlete Jack Davidson. “So we know what the bubble situation has been like. And for them to cap it off in the way they did was extraordinary.”
Winning a title is tough enough in any year, but the effort it took this season made the victory that much sweeter.
“I’m extremely proud of this team and their grit and resilience,” said Bronco Midfielder Alex Loera. “Nothing better than paying it off with a national championship.”MORE NEWS: Cause of Death Still Unknown for Gray Whale That Washed Up at SF's Ocean Beach
Santa Clara University is known for having a good women’s soccer program, but this is only their second national championship. The first time they brought home the trophy was 20 years ago, in 2001.