Oct. 6, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Former Notre Dame forward/midfielder and current Irish volunteer assistant coach Amanda Cinalli was selected by St. Louis in the fourth round (26th overall pick) of the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) General Draft on Monday afternoon. Cinalli becomes the fourth Notre Dame women’s soccer alum to be tapped for the new league, along with Canadian World Cup/Olympic Team member Melissa Tancredi (’04), who will join Cinalli on the St. Louis roster. In addition, two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalists Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf (’98) (Chicago Red Stars) and Shannon Boxx (’99) (Los Angeles) will suit up when WPS makes its debut in April 2009.
Cinalli was a Hermann Trophy final-15 selection in 2007 and a two-time National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) second-team all-Great Lakes Region honoree, in addition to being a three-time all-BIG EAST Conference pick during a successful career at Notre Dame from 2004-07. The Maple Heights, Ohio, native ranks 16th in school history with 100 points (34G-32A) in 100 games, and is one of 12 Irish players ever to amass 30 goals and 30 assists in her career. She also earned Freshman All-America honors from Soccer America and first-team all-BIG EAST status as a freshman in 2004, when she tallied 10 goals and five assists in helping Notre Dame to the program’s second national championship.
The consummate teammate, Cinalli served as the lone captain for the Irish during her senior season in 2007, battling through a nagging injury to notch 12 points (3G-6A) and helping Notre Dame rebound from an early 3-4-1 start to run off a 17-game unbeaten streak and take the Irish back to the NCAA College Cup for the fourth time in five years (and third time in her career). She graduated from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters in May 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in pre-professional studies.
Monday’s WPS General Draft allowed the league’s seven teams to select domestic or international players who have completed their college eligibility. Separate drafts were held earlier this fall to allocate players from the U.S. National Team (when Markgraf and Boxx were picked) and from the elite international level (when Tancredi was selected). Another draft will be held in January to choose players whose college eligibility expires at the end of the 2008 season.
Notre Dame has a rich history in American professional soccer, most recently with the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) from 2001-03. Twelve former Irish players — including Markgraf and Boxx — competed in the WUSA during its three-year existence, with Markgraf earning the 2001 WUSA Humanitarian Award for her charitable works with the Boston Breakers. In addition, four Notre Dame alums competed in the 2003 WUSA All-Star Game: Boxx, starter Jen Grubb (’00), LaKeysia Beene (’00) and Monica Gonzalez (’00). What’s more, Grubb helped the Washington Freedom win the 2003 WUSA title, two years after Beene and Kelly Lindsey (’01) paced the Bay Area/San Jose CyberRays to the inaugural league championship in 2001, with Beene being named WUSA Goalkeeper of the Year.
In her current role, Cinalli has put on her coaching hat this season and has helped Notre Dame to the nation’s No. 1 ranking and a 12-0-0 record (5-0-0 in the BIG EAST), making the Irish the lone unbeaten and untied Division I team in the country. Notre Dame will return to the pitch at 3 p.m. (ET) Friday when it visits No. 18/16 Georgetown in a match of unbeaten teams in the BIG EAST’s National Division.
— ND —