Senior prom is Friday night at Northern Highlands High School, but the talk in the halls is about the Women's World Cup.
ALLENDALE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – The Women’s World Cup began Friday.
The overwhelming favorite to win is the same team that celebrated four years ago: Team USA.
The tournament is expected to attract 1 billion viewers worldwide, and the biggest audience might be high schoolers.
Senior prom is Friday night at Northern Highlands High School, but the talk in the halls is about the Women’s World Cup, CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reported.
“Will you guys be huddled around the TV, watching?” Overmyer asked.
“Oh my gosh, definitely we will be. I’m sure we’ll have all U.S. gear on! American flags everywhere, cheering for them,” said Northern Highlands senior Olivia Holman.
Just like Team USA, these athletes are also champions: Northern Highlands won the state title this year, and is at the heart of a growing trend of girls falling in love with soccer.
“Over time girls soccer has really increased in popularity. Especially in high school where it gets so competitive especially here,” said Northern Highlands junior Allie Hite.
The Women’s World Cup final between USA and Japan four years ago was the most watched soccer match in U.S. history, regardless of gender.
“Such a culture change. So many young females becoming more interest in girls soccer and specializing at a young age. Ten years ago we were surrounded by young athletes playing multiple sports and soccer has continued to grow,” said high school soccer coach Tara Madigan.
It’s working. Approximately 2 million girls play soccer in the U.S., and New Jersey high schools produce the third most Division 1 players.
“You find connections. You’re like. ‘They’re from New Jersey? I’m from New Jersey too.’ That’s awesome. Then you follow them even more,” said Northern Highlands junior Grace Smiechowski.
Two members of the World Cup team are from New Jersey. It makes the dream of riding down the Canyon of Heroes attainable.
“Luckily the U.S. isn’t playing on the same day right now. So I’ll get ready for prom and break out some dance moves. Then go home and break out the American flag and watch the women play,” said Northern Highlands senior Olivia Homan.
But not everyone has a conflict of interest. Grace is a junior.
“I’m not going to prom so the Cup is my priority,” she said.
It may be a magical night for some. For others, they’re hoping for another magical year.
Team USA plays their first match of the World Cup on Tuesday at 3 p.m. against Thailand.