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Independence Signs Fan Favorite, 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist, Natasha Kai

January 5, 2012 - Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) - Philadelphia Independence News Release

DOWNINGTOWN, PA (January 5, 2012) - The Philadelphia Independence has re-signed 2011 fan favorite and team offensive most valuable player, Natasha Kai. A pure striker and goal scorer, and the sparkplug for the Independence offense in 2011, Kai led Philadelphia in goals scored with nine, tying her for second best in the league with Abby Wambach. Since coming to Philadelphia in 2011 as a free agent from Sky Blue FC following the 2010 season, she instantly became a fan favorite for her fast play and exuberance on the field, and animated personality off the field.

In arguably her best performance in 2011, Kai scored three goals in a 4-3 victory against her previous team, Sky Blue FC in July, and went on to score four goals in two games solidifying a first place standing for Philadelphia at the midway point of the season. Kai also scored the game winning goal in a 2-0 semi-final victory over magicJack that propelled the Independence into the 2011 WPS Championship game.

Natasha Kai is ready for another action-packed season in 2012 and excited to be back in Philadelphia. "I'm very happy to re-sign and be back with such a great organization and to be part of an amazing family and team" expressed Kai. "Being here in Philly, not only made me grow as a person, but also as a player. I lost the love and passion I once had for the game and truthfully never thought I'd ever get it back, but being here made me find that passion and love for soccer again. It's the happiest I've ever been and I can't wait to start the 2012 season."

Philly's attacking-minded Coach, Paul Riley, is anxious to have Kai back on the roster and is looking forward to another electrifying season from the 28 year old forward. "Tash was a revelation last year and we are excited to bring her back to Philly," said the 2010 and 2011 WPS Coach of the Year, Riley. "She led the forward line really well and her goal production was spot on. She is an effervescent personality and has been superb both in the locker room and on the field. I expect another huge year from her and she will be critical in our goal to bring the WPS Championship to Philly."

Kai has extensive international experience making her debut on the U.S. Women's National Team at the 2006 Algarve Cup. She competed with the National Team in the 2008 Olympics and in the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Kai scored the winning goal in overtime to lead the U.S. past Canada in the quarterfinal round. In 2004 Tasha led the U.S. U-21 National Team in scoring with 12 goals.

Kai is one of the most famous female athletes from Hawai'i, where she starred at the University of Hawai'i and was recently inducted to the school's Hall of Fame, the 'Circle of Honor,' in October of 2011. She was the first player in Western Athletic Conference (WAC) history to earn three Player of the Year awards. Kai owns the WAC career shots record (446) and is second in goals (72) and points (162). She was the WAC Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, the first player in conference history to accomplish that feat.

Kai's distinctive career in women's soccer makes her one of the most recognizable figures in sports and has catapulted her into media stardom. She has been featured on numerous television and radio programs, as well as in major print media works, including in ESPN The Magazine and Ink'd Magazine.

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