Aug. 16, 2009

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – No fewer than eight Notre Dame women’s soccer alumnae are still in a position to help their teams capture the inaugural Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) Championship, as the first-year league opened postseason play on Saturday night. New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC, led by former Fighting Irish All-Americans Kerri Hanks (’08) and Jen Buczkowski (’07), defeated the Washington Freedom, 2-1, in Saturday’s WPS first-round playoff matchup at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md.

With the victory, Sky Blue FC advances to the WPS Super Semifinal on Wednesday at 7 p.m. (ET), where they will face Saint Louis Athletica — whose roster includes Notre Dame alums Amanda Cinalli (’08), Melissa Tancredi (’04) and Elise Weber (’09) — at the Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park in Fenton, Mo. The game will be broadcast live to a national cable audience on Fox Soccer Channel.

The winner in Wednesday’s Super Semifinal will move on to face the WPS regular-season champion Los Angeles Sol — paced by Fighting Irish alums Brittany Bock (’09), Shannon Boxx (’99) and Christie Shaner (’07) — in the first WPS Championship Game, presented by MedImmune, next Saturday, Aug. 22 at 4 p.m. (ET) from the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Fox Sports Net will broadcast the title game live, as will selected regional cable affiliates around the country, including Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

Hanks and Buczkowski both started in Sky Blue FC’s first-round victory at Washington yesterday, with Hanks earning her first starting nod since a midseason trade from Saint Louis to New Jersey. For the season, the two-time Hermann Trophy-winning forward Hanks has appeared in 16 games, making seven starts while collecting two goals and one assist. Buczkowski also has played in 16 games, starting eight times as a center back for Sky Blue FC.

After a late debut to the season because of a preseason knee injury, Cinalli emerged as one of the prime offensive threats for Saint Louis as both a forward and midfielder, starting all 12 of her appearances and recording two goals and an assist. Meanwhile, Tancredi has split time between forward and defender, starting nine of the 14 games she has played in, with two assists on her ledger. Weber has become a mainstay on the Athletica back line, starting 14 of 18 games at left back and making her first professional goal the gamewinner in the 84th minute of a 2-1 win at Sky Blue FC on June 28.

Boxx was chosen as one of the team captains for Los Angeles prior to the season, and has proudly carried that mantle of leadership all year long, expertly controlling the pace of play from her defensive midfield position while tallying three goals and three assists in 19 games (18 starts). In addition, she has helped to take Bock under her wing, as the recent Notre Dame graduate and two-time All-American blossomed into a versatile and valuable member of the Sol’s starting lineup, playing at all three field positions during the season. Although primarily seeing time at center back (a position she didn’t play in college), Bock has registered two goals and has started 18 of 19 games in her rookie season.

Shaner started the year with Sky Blue FC before being traded to Los Angeles midway through the season. In her first appearance with her new club on July 5 at Washington, Shaner earned her first WPS start, but suffered a season-ending leg injury in the 53rd minute following a collision with Washington forward Abby Wambach. Following corrective surgery, Shaner is in the midst of rehabilitating her injury with plans to return to the Los Angeles lineup next season.

Two other Notre Dame alums competed for teams that did not make this year’s WPS Playoffs. Candace Chapman (’05) played in 11 games, starting eight times, at center back for the Boston Breakers, while fellow defender Carrie Dew (’09) started all 17 games she appeared in for FC Gold Pride (based in the San Francisco Bay Area), scoring her first professional goal in the 33rd minute of a 1-1 tie at Sky Blue FC on April 11.

The 11th Notre Dame graduate in WPS is longtime U.S. National Team defender Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf (`98), whose rights currently are held by the Chicago Red Stars. Markgraf was on maternity leave this season, giving birth to twins in June. She is expected to suit up for Chicago next year.

For more information on the WPS Playoffs, please visit the league’s official web site at

The 2009 version of the Fighting Irish, ranked third in the preseason National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll, will kick off their season Friday at 7:30 p.m. (ET) against Wisconsin at Alumni Field (the former home of Notre Dame soccer, which will play host to the first two Notre Dame home matches while construction is completed on the state-of-the-art Alumni Stadium that will debut in September).

For all games at Alumni Field, the public is asked to park in the University’s library parking lot (located east of the Hesburgh Library and northwest of the Guglielmino Athletics Complex) and enter the soccer field via Courtney Lane (across from the Eck Tennis Pavilion). Tickets are available at the Notre Dame athletics ticket office (574-631-7356), on-line through the Fighting Irish athletics ticket web page (, or at the gate on game night.

— ND —