PORTLAND - At least 300 people gathered in an auditorium on the University of Portland campus Thursday to cheer for the USA Olympic soccer team.
They had good reason to be excited. One of their former stars, Megan Rapinoe, is a leader on the team.
Inside the building, the face of Rapinoe appeared everywhere as the school handed out small signs with her face attached.
“It's gonna get crazy,” said Sarah Bridges, a current member of the UP soccer team.
Sitting next to her friends and fellow players and watching the action on an enormous screen allowed Bridges to almost feel like part of the game.
“Sometimes you’re like 'oh man should have passed it there or something' like you see other options so in that aspect,” she said.
When the Americans scored first, the Portland crowd erupted in a deafening roar.
The soccer coach gave his women the day off so they and he could watch the game. Many dreamed of the day they’d be on the Olympic team.
“Ha, ha I wish! That would be really cool. That’s every little girl who grows up playing soccer’s dream,” said Bridges.
Not far away, 10-year-olds Ava Bayley and her best friend Emmerich Williams, soccer players themselves, dreamed of the Olympics too.
“I hope so but that’s a ways away so I’m trying to work up to that,” Ava said.
There’s a lot these girls like about soccer.
“I like that everyone is working together and that you really have to push yourself to get what you want to have happen, happen,” said Emmerich. And while their Olympics may be a ways off, the UP players were only a few rows away.
It seemed like a good place to meet their future. “I’m going to go up and see them,” said Ava.
After smiles and autographs, the young girls and the college women settled in to watch the second half of the Olympic gold medal match.
There were moments of tension, but in the end they were not disappointed as the USA won 2 to 1.
It’s a good bet that in Portland and around the country, the dream of women’s soccer is alive and well.