March 26, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – When the inaugural season of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) kicks off Sunday night in southern California, you can be sure there will be a distinct Notre Dame flavor to the new league.
Each of WPS’ seven franchises finalized their opening day rosters late Wednesday, and when the dust settled, no less than 10 Fighting Irish alumnae had earned a place with their respective teams. Among all college programs, Notre Dame was second only to North Carolina (12) in producing the most alums on WPS rosters, although three of the 12 UNC players in that count are listed as developmental (practice squad) players, while all 10 Irish athletes made the active roster with their teams. Each squad is allowed to keep 18 players on its active roster, while carrying up to four additional players with the “developmental” tag.
Two Notre Dame alums will take part in the WPS inaugural game on Sunday night, as U.S. National Team midfielder/two-time Olympic gold medalist Shannon Boxx (’99) and recent two-time Irish All-America forward/midfielder Brittany Bock (’09) will suit up for the Los Angeles Sol against the Washington Freedom (led by U.S. National Team member Abby Wambach) at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The game will kick off at 6 p.m. (ET) and will be televised live to a national cable audience by Fox Soccer Channel.
Boxx was allocated to the Sol as part of the special WPS distribution of U.S. National Team players — that same process sent former Notre Dame three-time All-America defender Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf (’98) to the Chicago Red Stars, although Markgraf will sit out this season on maternity leave while she awaits the birth of her second child. Markgraf is not counted among the 10 Irish players on 2009 WPS opening-day rosters. Meanwhile, Bock was selected in the first round (fifth overall pick) of the inaugural WPS Draft, which was held back in January in St. Louis — she also currently is penning a regular blog (entitled “I’ll B Bock”) about her rookie season for the Sol’s web site, www.LosAngelesSol.com (click on the “Blogs” link in the “News & Events” box near the top center of the page).
Two-time Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy recipient and four-time Irish All-America forward Kerri Hanks (’08) will lead a strong contingent of Notre Dame alums playing for St. Louis Athletica this season. Hanks, who was chosen with the sixth overall pick in the first round of the WPS Draft, will be joined in the Gateway City by two-time All-America defender Melissa Tancredi (’04), two-time all-Great Lakes Region forward Amanda Cinalli (’08) and two-time all-region defender Elise Weber (’09).
St. Louis acquired the rights to Tancredi in the third round of the WPS International Draft back in October, while Cinalli was drafted that same month in the fourth round of the WPS Domestic Draft. Weber then followed in Hanks’ footsteps through the WPS Draft, as Athletica tapped her with its final pick in the third round (21st overall). The Notre Dame quartet in St. Louis will make its debut on April 4 at 8 p.m. (ET), when Athletica plays host to Chicago at Ralph Korte Stadium in Edwardsville, Ill. (a suburb of St. Louis).
Another team with multiple Notre Dame ties will be Sky Blue FC, a franchise based in the New York/northern New Jersey metropolitan area. Three-time All-America midfielder Jen Buczkowski (’07) and all-region defender Christie Shaner (’07) both came to the East Coast via the WPS Draft, with Shaner going in the fourth round (25th overall) and Buczkowski in the sixth round (39th overall). One of the assistant coaches with Sky Blue FC is former two-time Irish all-region defender Kelly Lindsey (’01), who was a player in the country’s previous women’s professional soccer league, the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) from 2001-03, where she was a second-team all-league selection with the San Jose CyberRays and assisted on the team’s first goal in their 2001 championship game victory over Atlanta. Sky Blue FC will kick off its inaugural season on April 5 at 4 p.m. (ET), when it welcomes Los Angeles to TD Bank Park in Bridgewater, N.J.
Last year’s Irish squad, which went 26-1 and rolled to its seventh appearance in the NCAA national championship game, will be well-represented in WPS this year, with Bock, Hanks and Weber joined All-America defender Carrie Dew (’09) in the league this season. Dew cracked the final roster with FC Gold Pride (based in the San Francisco Bay Area) after that franchise selected her in the second round of the WPS Draft with the 12th overall selection. Dew and her FC Gold Pride teammates will take the field for the first time on April 5 at 6 p.m. (ET), when they welcome the Boston Breakers to Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., for a nationally-televised game on Fox Soccer Channel.
Rounding out the contingent of Notre Dame alums on 2009 WPS opening day rosters is two-time All-America forward/defender Candace Chapman (’05), who earned a spot with Boston. Chapman, who is one of four players from the 2004 Irish national championship squad who will be playing in WPS this year (along with Tancredi, Buczkowski and Shaner), saw her playing rights assigned to Boston through the WPS International Draft, similar to fellow Canadian National Team member Tancredi.
For more information on the inaugural season of WPS, including complete schedules for all seven teams, visit the league’s web site at www.womensprosoccer.com.
Notre Dame Alumnae In Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) — 2009 Season
Brittany Bock ('09) Los Angeles SolShannon Boxx ('99) Los Angeles SolJen Buczkowski ('07) Sky Blue FCCandace Chapman ('05) Boston BreakersAmanda Cinalli ('08) St. Louis AthleticaCarrie Dew ('09) FC Gold PrideKerri Hanks ('08) St. Louis AthleticaKelly Lindsey ('01) Sky Blue FC (assistant coach)Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf ('98) Chicago Red Stars (inactive - maternity leave)Christie Shaner ('07) Sky Blue FCMelissa Tancredi ('04) St. Louis AthleticaElise Weber ('09) St. Louis Athletica
— ND —