April 2, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – As the second season of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) kicks off next weekend (April 10-11), Notre Dame once again will be front and center when it comes to filling out the rosters of America’s top-level women’s pro soccer league.
Each of WPS’ eight franchises finalized their opening day rosters late Thursday, and when the dust settled, no less than nine Fighting Irish alumnae had earned a place with their respective teams, with eight making their squad’s active roster. Among all college programs, Notre Dame was second only to North Carolina (17) in producing the most alums on WPS rosters. Each squad is allowed to keep 18 players on its active roster, while carrying up to four additional players with the “developmental” tag.
Leading the way are the two Fighting Irish alums that moonlight as veterans (and two-time Olympic gold medalists) on the U.S. National Team — midfielder Shannon Boxx (’99) and defender Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf (’98). One of the world’s top holding midfielders, Boxx was a WPS All-Star and team captain last season with the Los Angeles Sol, scoring three goals and adding three assists for the WPS regular season champions. However, the Sol franchise folded during the offseason, and Boxx was selected with the top pick in the league’s Dispersal Draft, going to Saint Louis Athletica.
Boxx will join an Athletica roster that already includes former Notre Dame two-time all-region defender Elise Weber (’09), who proved to be a steady presence on the Saint Louis backline last season, starting 14 of 20 matches and helping Saint Louis to the WPS semifinals.
Meanwhile, Markgraf makes her WPS debut this season with the Chicago Red Stars after sitting out last year on maternity leave. She was allocated to the Red Stars prior to last season as part of the special WPS distribution of U.S. National Team players.
In Chicago, Markgraf will be joined by recent Notre Dame standout Michele Weissenhofer (’10), who will begin this season on the Red Stars’ developmental squad. Markgraf and Weissenhofer both started in Chicago’s 1-0 exhibition win over Notre Dame back on March 24 in South Bend.
Boxx was not the only Fighting Irish alum to change address due to the demise of the Los Angeles Sol. Two-time All-American Brittany Bock (’09) — who was one of the top rookies in WPS last season after starting 18 times and scoring twice for the Sol and playing on all three lines at some point during the year — was chosen in the first round of the WPS Dispersal Draft (seventh overall) by the Washington Freedom. Bock, who has also spent time in the U.S. National Team camp during the past year, is coming off preseason ankle surgery and her status for the beginning of the WPS season is still to be determined.
The other WPS team that will feature multiple Notre Dame alums when this season kicks off will be FC Gold Pride, which is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Former Fighting Irish All-America defender Carrie Dew (’09) returns for her second season with the Pride after making 17 starts as a rookie a year ago (she was taken in the second round with the 12th overall pick in the 2009 WPS Draft). Joining her on the West Coast is Notre Dame’s former two-time All-America forward/defender Candace Chapman (’05), who signed with the Pride as a free agent after spending last season with the Boston Breakers (eight starts in 11 games played).
The two newest WPS franchises also will have a Notre Dame alum on their rosters, with those two former Fighting Irish greats being selected on consecutive picks in the first round of the WPS Expansion Draft. Former Notre Dame three-time All-America midfielder Jen Buczkowski (’07) was chosen with the third overall selection by the Philadelphia Independence, with former Fighting Irish two-time all-region forward Amanda Cinalli (’08) going with the ensuing selection to the Atlanta Beat. Buczkowski spent last season with the WPS champion Sky Blue FC, starting eight times down the stretch as Sky Blue FC won three consecutive playoff road matches in the span of a week to claim the WPS title. Meanwhile, Cinalli started 12 matches for Saint Louis Athletica last season, scoring two goals and adding an assist.
The 2010 WPS season gets underway at 7 p.m. (ET) April 10, when Bock’s Washington Freedom play host to the Boston Breakers at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md. The next day, the remaining six teams will kick off their seasons — FC Gold Pride at Saint Louis Athletica (4 p.m. ET), Atlanta Beat at Philadelphia Independence (6 p.m. ET) and Chicago Red Stars at Sky Blue FC (6 p.m. ET on Fox Soccer Channel).
For more information on the upcoming second season of WPS, including complete schedules for all eight teams, visit the league’s web site at www.womensprosoccer.com.
Notre Dame Alumnae In Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) -- 2010 SeasonBrittany Bock ('09) Washington FreedomShannon Boxx ('99) Saint Louis AthleticaJen Buczkowski ('07) Philadelphia IndependenceCandace Chapman ('05) FC Gold PrideAmanda Cinalli ('08) Atlanta BeatCarrie Dew ('09) FC Gold PrideKate (Sobrero) Markgraf ('98) Chicago Red StarsElise Weber ('09) St. Louis AthleticaMichele Weissenhofer ('10) Chicago Red Stars (developmental squad)
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