Jan. 16, 2009
ST. LOUIS – Friday’s inaugural Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) Draft had a distinct Notre Dame flavor, as six Irish women’s soccer alums were chosen among the first 39 selections during the selection process for the league’s first season which gets underway in March. Highlighting the Notre Dame draft contingent on Friday were four members of the top-ranked 2008 Irish squad that reeled off a school-record 26 victories to open the campaign, knocked off 10 ranked opponents, won its 10th BIG EAST Conference title and steamrolled all the way to the NCAA College Cup title game, making the program’s seventh national championship match appearance and third in five years. Notre Dame’s six draft selections, including four in the first three rounds, were the most from any school in Friday’s WPS Draft.
Forward/midfielder Brittany Bock (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) was the first Notre Dame player to come off the board, going in the first round with the fifth overall selection to the Los Angeles Sol. A two-time NSCAA All-American and ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American, as well as the 2007 BIG EAST Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Bock ranks 12th in school history with 46 goals and 121 points in her career. She also was a co-captain for the Irish this season, ranking third on the team in scoring with 21 points (6G-9A), while earning second-team All-America and first-team all-BIG EAST honors, as well as being a semifinalist for the Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy.
Forward Kerri Hanks (Allen, Texas/Allen) was chosen with the very next pick, going sixth overall to St. Louis Athletica. Hanks is one of only four players ever to earn the Hermann Trophy twice in their careers, receiving her second award just one week ago, and becoming the first recipient of either gender to do so in non-consecutive seasons. She wrapped up her Notre Dame career last month as the holder of an astounding 67 records in the Irish, BIG EAST and NCAA record books and she is believed to be the first person in the 122-year history of Notre Dame athletics to earn multiple national player-of-the-year awards. This season, she was the lone Division I player to rank among the top five in the country in total goals, assists and points, finishing with 20 goals, 15 assists and 55 points, while also fashioning school-record 11-game goalscoring and 19-game pointscoring streaks.
Defender Carrie Dew (Encinitas, Calif./La Costa Canyon) will be returning to her home state, as she was selected midway through the second round with the 12th overall pick by FC Gold Pride (based in the San Francisco Bay Area). Dew collected the second BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year trophy of her career in 2008 after backstopping an Irish defense that allowed just 12 goals all season with a 0.44 goals-against average (fourth in school history) and 18 shutouts (tied for second-most in school history). The Notre Dame co-captain went on to garner NSCAA first-team All-America honors last month, becoming the first Irish defender to earn a place on the top squad since 1997, when future U.S. National Team members Jen Grubb and Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf copped the honor. Ironically, Markgraf also is on an WPS roster, having been chosen by the Chicago Red Stars in the special draft for U.S. National Team players, although she will sit out the upcoming season while awaiting the birth of her second child.
Dew’s fellow linemate this season, Elise Weber (Elk Grove, Ill./St. Viator Academy), opened eyes throughout her college career, as well as during the league’s pre-draft combines, and was rewarded by being the final selection in round three, going 21st overall to St. Louis Athletica. Weber started all 53 games during her two years at Notre Dame after transferring from the University of Wisconsin prior to the 2007 season. In that time, she notched four goals and 10 assists (18 points) and was an all-BIG EAST honorable mention choice this season. She also was an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Second Team selection, joining Bock in garnering that status (Bock was a first-team honoree).
Two members of Notre Dame’s 2004 national championship squad also were chosen in Friday’s WPS Draft, both by Sky Blue FC (based in New Jersey). Defender Christie Shaner (’07) was selected in the fourth round (25th overall), while midfielder Jen Buczkowski (’07) went in the sixth round (39th overall). Three other players with Notre Dame ties currently appear on WPS rosters — Markgraf (’98) in Chicago, U.S. National Team midfielder Shannon Boxx (’99), who will team with Bock in Los Angeles, and current Irish volunteer assistant coach Amanda Cinalli (’08), who was selected by St. Louis in the WPS General Draft (for players no longer in college). In addition, St. Louis holds the rights to former Irish defender and Canadian National Team member Melissa Tancredi (’05), should she elect to participate in the league.
The inaugural WPS season will kick off Sunday, March 29, when the Los Angeles Sol (led by Bock and Boxx, as well as Brazilian sensation Marta, the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year) play host to the Washington Freedom (led by U.S. National Team superstar Abby Wambach) at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. — start time is set for 6 p.m. (ET) and the game will be televised live to a national cable audience on Fox Soccer Channel. Hanks, Weber, Cinalli and St. Louis Athletica will make their debut a week later on April 5 when they welcome the Chicago Red Stars to town (the game will be played on the Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville campus). That same day, Dew’s FC Gold Pride will entertain the Boston Breakers in their inaugural game at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., while Shaner and Buczkowski will spearhead Sky Blue FC as it tangles with Los Angeles at TD Bank Park in Bridgewater, N.J.
The remainder of the 2009 WPS schedule, including the full television package, will be announced shortly and can be found at the league’s official web site (www.womensprosoccer.com).
— ND —