Getting the opportunity to play a home game under the lights is always a special feeling for high school soccer players. The players on the Highland Regional High School girls’ and boys’ soccer team got to experience that feeling Thursday night, but it wasn't just being on the football stadium that made their night special. It was also the cause for which they were playing.
The Tartans soccer players took the field with pink shirts and socks, helping to raise money and awareness for breast cancer.
“I think (cancer) has touched everybody’s life in one way or another,” said Highland girls’ coach Tiffany Strauss, noting that one of the program’s former players has been cancer free for five years. “I’m sure pretty much everybody on the team, unfortunately, has had a family member affected by cancer.”
One of those players is senior defender Brianna Squilla.
“It really means a lot to me because some members of my family have had breast cancer, so it’s like I am playing for them,” said Squilla, a captain. “I have the captain’s band that has the breast cancer ribbon, so it means a lot to me and every girl on this team.”
Other teams at Highland and schools throughout the country have made a habit of dedicating one game a year to breast cancer awareness. This is the first time the Tartans soccer program donned pink for the cause, but almost certainly won’t be the last.
“It’s something we have wanted to do for a long time and we were able to put it together this year,” said Strauss. “Other teams in the school have done this before, and we are happy to do our part in helping out for the cause.”
That's why every player was happy to do their part.
“The shirts, the socks, the laces, the armbands—it’s all just about supporting the cause,” said Squilla.
As for the game, Squilla scored for the Tartans, but they fell to Gloucester Tech, 4-1.
Despite Thursday’s loss dropping the Tartans to 3-11-1, the team will be competing in the playoffs. Highland drew a No. 11 seed and will travel to take on No. 6 Burlington Township on Saturday. The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but got moved forward due to weather concerns as Hurricane Sandy bears down on the Mid-Atlantic.
Prior to Thursday’s loss, Strauss said she felt good about the way her team was playing; going as far to say that their postseason experience may be more than just a cameo.
“I think that our record may not show how effective we are,” said Strauss. “We are a very strong team and very competitive. We have a lot of talent so I think we have a very good chance to go pretty far in states.”