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Philadelphia Re-signs Key Components of Defensive Success

January 6, 2012 - Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) - Philadelphia Independence News Release

DOWNINGTOWN, PA (January 7, 2012) - The Philadelphia Independence has re-signed defender Kia McNeill and midfielder Jen Buczkowski, both of whom were key components to the Independence run to the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) Championship game last season and named to the 2011 WPS Best XI, a first time honor for each.

McNeill was the team's most valuable player on defense and was the backbone to Philadelphia's backline, and although a midfielder on paper, Jen Buczkowski was an important piece to the defensive success of the Independence as well. In 2011, the Independence defense allowed only a 1.0 goal against average and boasted 7 shutout wins, including a 2-0 victory over magicJack in the semi-finals, sending the team to the WPS Championship.

McNeill will play her second season in Philadelphia under Head Coach Paul Riley as she came to the Independence as a free agent from the Atlanta Beat following the 2010 WPS season. "I'm excited to be back with the Philadelphia Independence," said defender Kia McNeill. "I believe in this organization and what we are trying to achieve as eventual WPS Champions. I look forward to reuniting with my old teammates and the newcomers, to hit the ground running and pick up where we left off last year. I have a good feeling about this year already; 2012 is our year."

In her first season with the Independence, McNeill played in and started 17 matches, logged over 1400 mintues, and scored her first goal of her career in a match in June, that contributed to an Independence victory over magicJack 3-1. McNeill began her career in WPS with the St. Louis Athletica in 2009, anchoring a defense that allowed the second fewest goals (15) and boasted the second most shutouts (8) in the league. In 2010, she was just as consistent on the backline with the Beat, where she started 19 matches and logged more than 1,600 minutes.

Buczkowski returns for her third season with the Independence after being drafted by the team in the 2009 Expansion Draft as the third overall pick. Buczkowski logged every minute of the regular season for the Independence in 2011 and was named the team's 2011 Ironwoman for her durability and consistency on the field. Buczkowski was also a key component for the Independence in 2010 where she appeared in 23 games, starting 20 of them.

Recognized as one of the best midfielders in Notre Dame history, Buczkowski was named to the All Big East team 2004-2006, and was named Big East Midfielder of the Year in 2005. On returning to Philadelphia, Buczkowski said, "I'm so thankful and happy to have re-signed with Philly. [Owner] David Halstead and Coach Riley have established an organization built on the right principles and being a member of the Independence is something I take great pride in. I have been able to grow so much the past two years as a player and look forward to the 2012 season. I hope the fans are just as excited because our expectations are set high and winning the WPS Championship is our number one goal."

NOTE: All player signings are subject to league approval before becoming official.

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