Alabama soccer alumna, signee play at the 2015 Women's World CupBy Caroline Gazzara | 06/17/2015 12:21am
The University of Alabama women's soccer team attracts both national and international players. UA Athletics
It comes as no surprise that Alabama’s talented recruiting led to two players competing in the Women’s World Cup this year.
Former midfielder Merel van Dongen closed out her collegiate career last season with the Crimson Tide and now plays for the Netherlands. Incoming transfer student Celia Jimenez Delgado is playing for Spain. Delgado previously played for Iowa Western Community College before joining Alabama’s roster.
Both players made their debut in the World Cup last week. Van Dongen and the Netherlands played June 11 against China, losing 1-0. Delgado has started for Spain in both her games against Costa Rica, drawing 1-1, and against Brazil, losing 1-0. Van Dongen and the Netherlands tied against Canada on June 15, 1-1. Delgado will play tonight against South Korea.
Coach Wes Hart did not get the opportunity to coach van Dongen as he was hired in April, but said he was proud of what the program has instilled in his players that are competing on the highest level.
“Having two players from The University of Alabama representing their countries at the World Cup is incredible,” Hart said. “This truly speaks volumes about the level of soccer players we have, and will continue to develop here at Alabama.”
Van Dongen was one of the top players for Alabama since she joined in 2012. She played for three years, scoring 10 goals overall. Van Dongen suffered from a season-ending knee injury in 2013 while training with the Netherlands national team.
Despite the knee injury that kept her out of the game, van Dongen returned last season with much more fire and determination.
“My career at Alabama has helped me so much in preparing for playing with the Dutch National Team in Canada during the 2015 Women’s World Cup,” van Dongen said. “During my time at Alabama I learned what it takes to be a leader, a good teammate, to train as hard as you can and to face adversity. With the help of my coaches and teammates I am where I am today.”
Delgado has yet to debut for the Crimson Tide. At Iowa Western Community College, Delgado was one of the Reivers’ top players and went on to win the 2013 NJCAA National Championship. She scored 21 goals with 11 assists during her time with the Reivers.