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Beat Sign Hometown Midfielder Kelley O'Hara

January 5, 2012 - Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) - Atlanta Beat News Release

KENNESAW, GA (January 5, 2011) - The Atlanta Beat of Women's Professional Soccer have agreed to terms for the 2012 season (pending league approval) with their first hometown player, midfielder Kelley O'Hara from Fayetteville, Ga.

"It's fantastic for our team and for the local community," said Atlanta Beat head coach James Galanis."We've picked up an excellent player who was raised in the area and who can serve as a positive role model for many of the young, local players."

O'Hara says she is "super excited about it! There is an opportunity to be off the field with friends and family and to also have them come to the games. I think that was a big factor in my decision to play in Atlanta," she said, "and I am definitely excited to be able to do that."

"I've heard all good things about head coach James Galanis. I've talked to a lot of my friends and players I respect. I feel like he is going to put together a good team this year and hopefully for years to come. I am excited for the opportunity to play with specific people, to play for him, and to play for the city of Atlanta."

Now entering into her third professional season, O'Hara joins the Beat after spending 2011 with the Boston Breakers, where she signed as a free agent on Dec. 8, 2010. She started 11 of 13 games with the New England side and scored four goals with one assist.

In describing O'Hara as a player, Coach Galanis believes, "She is very explosive over the first 10 yards. She is very quick and very skilled. Kelley can whip in great service from out wide, and also has the capacity to cut in and score goals for herself. Overall, she is just a fantastic soccer player with great characteristics. She is one of the hardest working players out there, and she is really fit."

O'Hara was a member of the U.S. Women's National Team (USWNT) during their journey in the FIFA Women's World Cup last summer. She was recently called back into camp for the Olympic qualifiers. She earned her first cap (international appearance) with the senior team on March 28, 2010, in a 3-0 win over Mexico and now has a total of seven.

"I mean it has been awesome," she said of her national team experience. "I am so thankful and appreciative that I get the opportunity to do that. Every practice and every camp I go into with them, I come out feeling like I've improved so much as a player. I started out playing at forward, then outside mid and now outside back, so it's made me be flexible and versatile in working on my game not just at a specific position.

O'Hara began her professional career with FC Gold Pride (Bay Area) as the third overall selection in the 2010 WPS Draft. As a rookie, she was a large part of the team's Championship season. She started 16 of her 18 appearances in 2010, scoring six goals (second most for a rookie that season) and assisting four.

As a collegiate player at Stanford alongside newly acquired Beat forward Christen Press, O'Hara had a stellar 2009 senior season that included school records in goals (25) goals and points (63) in addition to winning the Mac Herman Trophy which is awarded to the best overall women's college soccer player. During her senior season, Stanford went 25-1, falling only to the University of North Carolina in the NCAA Division - I National Championship. The midfielder's impressive Cardinal career encompassed 57 goals, 19 assists and 146 points.

O'Hara graduated from Starr's Mill High School in Fayetteville, Ga., where her Lady Panther career concluded in 2006 with a A State Championship, 20 goals and 16 assists in her senior season. She was named an NSSCAA, Gatorade, and Atlanta Journal Constitution Georgia State Player of the Year. She grew-up playing club soccer for Peachtree City Lazers, AFC Lightning (Fayetteville), and Concorde Fire.

A local talent is something the Atlanta Beat are excited to share with this community. "The youth in our area now have a real life player that they can look up to," said Galanis. "She's a player who made it through the Atlanta youth system all the way to the pros. Kelley O'Hara is a real example of a local girl who started playing soccer in Atlanta and has made it all the way to the top. She just brings so many positives to the table and is a fantastic pick-up for our team."

O'Hara reports to preseason with the Atlanta Beat on March 1, 2012. She will join other recent signees: Christen Press, Nikki Washington, Rebecca Moros, Katherine Reynolds, Angela Salem, and Lauren Fowlkes.

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