Harrison, N.J. — The “U-S-A!” chants were loud at halftime during the U.S. women’s national team’s draw with France at the SheBelieves Cup, but instead of cheers for Megan Rapinoe or Alex Morgan, they were for hockey players like Meghan Duggan and Hilary Knight.
The U.S. women’s hockey team, which last month won an Olympic gold medal for the first time since 1998, visited New Jersey as part of their media tour that has taken the players to “Saturday Night Live,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” hockey games and basketball games, among other events.
The new gold medalists were also on the field ahead of the game for warm-ups, exchanging hugs with the U.S. soccer team and kicking the ball about themselves, before they were then honored at halftime in front of a crowd of 25,706 fans.
“I’m delighted that they came today and got the accolades that they deserved,” U.S. women’s national team head coach Jill Ellis said after the game.
— Meghan Duggan (@mduggan10) March 4, 2018
Women supporting women was a theme of the day, especially women athletes supporting other women athletes. Last March, U.S. women’s national soccer team players publicly backed their hockey counterparts as they threatened to boycott last year’s World Championships. The hockey team agreed to a new deal with USA Hockey shortly before the tournament, which they went on to win. The soccer team had also just renegotiated their collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer earlier last year.
“Tremendous by them,” Seattle Reign FC midfielder Megan Rapinoe said. “What they’ve taken on off of the ice, and then being able to come back and have a huge sort of comeback victory. They haven’t won the Olympics in a long time. Tremendous to see them today and it was really cool to have that support and kind of build off each other. I think we both sort of feel that in a way and it kind of just feels like one of those snowball type moments where we can all capitalize on it.”
The feeling was mutual.
“We’re very happy to be out here celebrating, be with an amazing team such as the U.S. women’s soccer team. They’re awesome. They have so many role models,” USA Hockey forward Gigi Marvin, who most recently played for the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League, said. “I grew up watching 99. … I was watching them on the field and all I see is Briana Scurry and Brandi Chastain and Julie Foudy. Legends like those players. It’s really cool to see how far women’s soccer has come and we’re obviously hoping the same for women’s hockey in the future.”
Two #USWNTs coming together to inspire young girls to achieve their dreams.
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) March 4, 2018
It was only the more fitting to honor the hockey team at a tournament titled “SheBelieves” — which has been a U.S. Soccer player led movement that aims to inspire young girls and women to accomplish their goals.
“We hope that every single child is inspired to be who they are and be the best expression of themselves,” Marvin said. “We’re going to be the best athletes we can and the best role models we possibly can for the young kids coming up.”
— NWSL (@NWSL) March 4, 2018
“Strength in numbers,” Ellis said. “I think we can show that we are a special brand of athlete and person. I think the general public likes to get behind the teams. Part of that is because of the personalities but also the quality of the competitors on the rink or on the pitch.”
The support extended beyond the athletes on the field and included fans going straight from USA vs. France in Harrison to an NWHL game in Newark. New Jersey’s local team, the Metropolitan Riveters were hosting their final regular season home game ahead of their playoff game on March 18.
— Sky Blue FC (@SkyBlueFC) March 4, 2018
“It’s always great when women support women for sure, but just people as people. You support one another and you support what’s best. You support what’s right. You support what’s just and fair. That’s something we’ve always believed and why we held so strong in March of last year to ensure that things would change for the good,” Marvin said.