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Ella McNeary

Photo by Allison Goodwin

High School East's Ella McNeary has been playing soccer since she was 3 years old, and this season played varsity as a freshman. This summer, she's one of only 18 female athletes from NJ14 Soccer Club selected to represent the United States at the Gothia Cup in Sweden. Story below.

Ella McNeary as kiddo

'It's been a dream'

June 9, 2023—Ella McNeary is 15 years old, a freshman at High School East.

She is also among an elite handle of young athletes who will compete in the Gothia Cup this summer, an international youth fútbol tournament held annually in Gotenburg, Sweden since 1975.

Ella, who plays varsity soccer for HSE, is one of 18 girls from the NJ14 Soccer Club who will be representing the country at the World Youth Cup, and she's the only female from Toms River. 

A midfielder and striker, Ella has been playing soccer since she was 3 years old, and excelling as a youngster is a familiar story, which continued this year. She made varsity as a freshman-- a rare feet, err, feat-- playing for Coach Jamie Blondina.

Ella and Jamie Blondina

Ella and High School East girls soccer coach Jamie Blondina 

Photo by Allison Goodwin

"Playing varsity as a freshman was a awesome experience, and I learned a lot from the upper classmen," Ella said. "I made unforgettable memories and long-lasting friendships."

She also plays club soccer for Cedar Stars Academy-Monmouth, but it was a guest appearance for the NJ14 squad which ultimately led to this opportunity. NJ14 coach Linzi McCormick clearly liked what she saw out of Ella during a competitive tournament, and extended her the offer to go to Sweden.

"This means everything to me," Ella said of this once-in-a-lifetime chance. "I have always wanted to play overseas ... it’s been a dream since I was younger."

Ella credits her parents, Michelle and Stephen, with her success and for keeping her grounded, calling them her "biggest supporters" and acknowledging that they would do anything for her. Steven described his daughter's invitation to the Gothia Cup as an "amazing achievement."

We agree. And everyone at High School East and throughout Toms River Regional Schools wishes Ella McNeary the best of luck in Sweden, and in her burgeoning soccer career. Way to go, Ella!

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