After graduating from Molalla High School in 2017, Chase Rome decided to accept a scholarship to play college soccer nearly 3,000 miles away on the other side of the country.
Two years later, Rome could not be happier with her choice.
"Overall, it's been a great experience so far," Rome said last week from Victoria, British Columbia, where she was on vacation with her Stony Brook University teammates. "I've made a lot of new friends in New York and it's been really nice."
Rome has taken advantage of the hour and a half train ride from Stony Brook to New York City.
"I've got to experience a lot of the culture," said Rome, who attended the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade last November. "They have great food. The bagels are a lot better than in Portland, for sure."
Rome also got a shot to make an early impact at Stony Brook, playing in all 22 games and making 20 starts in the midfield as a freshman.
"It's so much different," said Rome, comparing high school soccer to Division I. "Obviously it's a lot higher level. You're expected to treat your body and fuel your body at a totally different level. It's a lot faster pace, very little room for a mistake on the field."
Rome helped the Seawolves win the 2017 America East championship, earning the program's second ever NCAA Tournament appearance and their first since 2012.
Stony Brook's reward was a first round matchup with the No. 10 ranked team in the nation – Penn State.
"It was super humbling," Rome said of getting shut out by Penn State 7-0. "Even though we got beat pretty badly, it was still crazy playing against that level of competition. It was awesome. I loved playing at that level. There were some crazy athletic German girls (Alina Ortega Jurado and Laura Freigang) in the midfield and they were hard to cover, for sure."
Rome was able to open her sophomore season back in Oregon as Stony Brook traveled to Eugene to play the University of Oregon and then Corvallis to take on Oregon State in mid August.
"It was nice to bring it back and play at the collegiate level against those players that I've known since I was really little," Rome said. "It was really nice to have my family come out and to have that support that I normally wouldn't have."
After narrowly falling to the Ducks 2-1, Stony Brook rebounded to defeat the Beavers 2-1 on a penalty kick in overtime. The Seawolves tough schedule continued in a 1-0 overtime loss to No. 20 Notre Dame in South Bend.
"I felt like we had grown as a team from my freshman to our sophomore year because I don't think my freshman year team would be able to compete at the level we did against Notre Dame," Rome said. "I think the score would have been a little bit different. Playing that kind of preseason schedule really showed us the growth we'd had within that year or so. It gave us confidence going into our season. I think that growth really helped us this year."
Stony Brook then went 6-1-1 in the America East before getting upset 2-0 by the University of Massachusetts Lowell in the semifinals of the conference tournament, ending the Seawolves season early.
Stony Brook had shut out UMASS Lowell 1-0 a week earlier.
"I think they might have come out with a little more energy," Rome said. "We didn't play our best game."
Rome, a health science major, who plans to go to nursing school after soccer, reports back to Stony Brook on July 31 to begin her junior year.
"I'm excited to be an upperclassman and take on more of a leadership role and guiding those underclassmen in the direction we want to go as a team," Rome said. "I think it will be a great year."
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