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Beat Sign Cox and Averbuch

January 11, 2012 - Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) - Atlanta Beat News Release


KENNESAW, GA (January 10, 2012) - The Atlanta Beat of Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) today announced U.S. Women's National Team (USWNT) defender Stephanie Cox and midfielder Yael Averbuch have agreed to terms for the 2012 season, pending league approval.

"Stephanie Cox, in my opinion, is the best left back in the world," said Beat head coach James Galanis. "When you look at her overall game, her skill level and the way she distributes the ball out of the back, her creativity, her ability to work the entire line, the way she crosses, and the way she plays balls into strikers' and midfielders' feet, she is just an amazing player to have in your backline."

Cox is a three-year, WPS veteran who spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons with the Boston Breakers. As a Breaker in 2010, she started all 23 games, lo gging a team-high 2,028 minutes, one goal and three assists. Cox j oined Boston as the fifth overall pick in the Los Angeles Sol Dispersal Draft.

"Playing in Kennesaw was always a highlight during the season because of the facilities," she said. "The weather was always great, and it always just seemed like a really professional environment to play."

Cox began her professional career as a 2009 WPS Regular Season Champion with the Los Angeles Sol where she started all 20 appearances, recorded 1807 minutes and anchored their backline to 13 shutouts. Defensively, the club maintained a 0.50 goals against average (GAA) and 4.45 shots on goal allowed per game.

"I thought that a new opportunity might help me grow as a soccer player," said Cox. "I know that the Beat, despite the success of last year, always tried to play soccer, and I really appreciate the tactics of [Coach Galanis]. I have always heard great things about him as a coach."

Cox has 78 caps (international appearances) with the USWNT after earning her first cap on March 15, 2005, against Denmark at the Algarve Cup in Portugal. She has since played in both the 2007 and 2011 FIFA Women's World Cups and won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics.

"She brings a lot of experience to the table," said Galanis. "She has been playing in the league since its inception; she has been in the National Team set-up since her youth, and she has just improved there. Stephanie is just an outstanding left back."

Cox played collegiately at the University of Portland.

Midfielder Yael Averbuch, also a three-year veteran, was drafted fourth overall by Sky Blue FC (NY/NJ) in the 2009 WPS Draft. She started 14 of the 18 games in her rookie season, helping the team to a fourth-place regular season finish and an eventual WPS Championship. During the playoffs, Averbuch played every minute of all three postseason matches and assisted Keeley Dowling's game-winning goal in the WPS Super Semifinal against the Saint Louis Athletica.

"Yael is a classic defensive mid," said Galanis. "Her strengths are sitting in front of the backline and distributing passes to keep the game flowing. She is physically strong; she gets in on tackles and she is very good in the air. Yael is a very skilled player who is good in tight spaces and who has world-class, long-range passes."

Averbuch remained with SBFC in 2010, starting 19 of 23 games and scoring one goal. She signed with the Western New York Flash on Dec. 20, 2010, and contributed eight starts in 13 appearances with two assists and 734 minutes played during their 2011 WPS Championship season.

"Western New York obviously was a great team, and I really enjoyed the environment there," said Averbuch. "It was great to win a championship with that team, but I was ready for something new this year and ready to be part of a team where I feel needed and inspired. I can't say anything bad about Western New York and the staff and the players I have played with, but I was ready for a little bit of change this year."

Averbuch has been in and out of the USWNT. She recently attended training camps in October and December of last year. She earned her first cap on January 28, 2007, against England at the Four Nations Tournament in China and has since competed in the 2010 CONCACAF Women's World Cup qualifying tournament in Costa Rica. She has 16 caps with the full team.

As a reliable midfielder at the University of North Carolina, Averbuch started every match of her college career, setting an all-time team and NCAA record with 105 consecutive starts. She scored 32 goals and had 29 assists for 93 career points. Her UNC jersey was retired in spring of 2009.

Stephanie Cox, Yael Averbuch and all Atlanta Beat players report for preseason on March 1, 2012.

2012 ATLANTA BEAT ROSTER

Stephanie Cox

Yael Averbuch

Rachel Buehler

Amy LePeilbet

Lauren Sesselmann

Alli Lipsher

Kelley O'Hara

Katherine Reynolds

Angela Salem

Lauren Fowlkes

Rebecca Moros

Nikki Washington

Christen Press

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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