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WPS Weekly

August 18, 2009 - Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) News Release

Sky Blue FC Wins WPS First Round Playoff

In the first-ever WPS Playoff game in league history Saturday, two second-half coaching moves by player-coach and captain Christie Rampone paid off as Sky Blue FC defeated the Washington Freedom, 2-1, on a hot day at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland.

Substitute Natasha Kai opened the scoring for Sky Blue FC in the 55th minute just a minute after being inserted into the game before a nice strike by Washington's Lisa De Vanna tied it in the 78th minute. Six minutes later, seldom-used substitute Francielle scored for Sky Blue FC to tally the game-winner and move the New Jersey-side into the Super Semifinal on Wednesday, August 19, when they will take on Saint Louis Athletica on the Athletica's home field at The Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park in Fenton, MO. Saint Louis earned the right to host the Super Semifinal as the second-place finisher in the WPS Regular Season. The winner of the Super Semifinal faces regular season champions Los Angeles Sol at The Home Depot Center at 4pm ET on Saturday, August 22 for the league championship.

Saturday, August 15

WPS First Round

Sky Blue FC 2, Washington Freedom 1

Wednesday, August 18

WPS Super Semifinal

Saint Louis Athletica vs. Sky Blue FC The Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park (7pm ET - FSC)

Saturday, August 22

WPS Championship presented by MedImmune

Los Angeles Sol vs. Winner Super Semifinal The Home Depot Center (3:30pm ET - FSN)

Local TV Listings for WPS Championship presented by MedImmune:

Lineup Notables

Sky Blue FC: Super sub, Natasha Kai, proved her value as an explosive player off the bench as she beat Washington's defensive line to chest the ball down for a volley into the goal just 45 seconds after entering the match. Nineteen-year-old Brazilian international, Francielle, got a rare chance to play in a match, just her seventh game this year in WPS. Francielle posted the game-winning goal against the Freedom to lead Sky Blue FC into the Super Semifinal round against the Saint Louis Athletica this Wednesday. Goalkeeper, Jenni Branam, suffered a blow to her left leg in a collision with Freedom forward Abby Wambach. Her health will be crucial in Wednesday match as back-up 'keeper, Karen Bardsley, is out with the English National Team for the European Championships.

Washington Freedom: After the Branam-Wambach collision in front of the goal, quick forward Lisa De Vanna pounded a shot into the open net to give the Freedom late hope in the match. Although the Freedom were eliminated from the playoffs, the match was De Vanna's second straight with a goal. Sarah Huffman got into her first game this season since falling to injury early in the season. Mid-season addition on loan from FFC Frankfurt Ali Krieger saw a close chance tipped off the crossbar by Sky Blue FC's Branam on Saturday.

Quotables From Notables

"The ball went over and I just saw Kacey [White] with the ball," said Sky Blue FC's Natasha Kai. "I don't know if she was trying to shoot it or if it was more like a half cross. It had a weird spin to it and I knew Cat [Whitehill] had no idea I was behind her. I knew that if I beat her to the ball it was an easy goal for me."

"I've been working hard all season and I was very excited to get into the game," said Sky Blue FC's Francielle. "I wanted to prove to the coaches that I can be on the field with all these other players. I got the ball on the left side near the box and my fake made the defender miss the ball and I had an opportunity to shoot. I knew that I had to get rid of the ball so I just hit the shot at the goal and luckily it trickled in.

"After our goal, I really felt like the team settled in and even though they scored, I still felt pretty confident in the team," said Sky Blue FC Player/Coach Christie Rampone. "A couple minutes after the goal they had a little momentum but we got it back. They left Fran wide open and she hit a good shot and we finished out better than we normally do."

Women's Professional Soccer Announces Year-end Award Nominations

Fans Can Vote Online for Player, Defender and Goalkeeper of the Year

Awards to be Presented at 2009 WPS All-Star Game Awards Gala in St. Louis

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (August 18, 2009) - Women's Professional Soccer announced the nominations for its year-end 2009 WPS Awards on Tuesday, which will be presented at the 2009 WPS All-Star Awards Gala in St. Louis, MO on August 29. Six categories will have awards presented of which three have fan voting as part of the award selection process, including Player, Defender and Goalkeeper of the Year. The league has formally named its Player of the Year Award after the great U.S. Women's National Team player and Olympic champion Michelle Akers to be called the "Michelle Akers Player of the Year Award."

Nominations were selected by media and the seven 2009 WPS teams (except AdvoCare Coach of the Year, in which all seven coaches are on the ballot):

Michelle Akers Player of the Year Award

Eniola Aluko (F) Saint Louis Athletica

Sonia Bompastor (M/D) Washington Freedom

Shannon Boxx (M) Los Angeles Sol

Lori Chalupny (M) Saint Louis Athletica

Marta (F) Los Angeles Sol

Hope Solo (GK) Saint Louis Athletica

Abby Wambach (F) Washington Freedom

MedImmune Defender of the Year Award

Anita Asante (D) Sky Blue FC

Tina Ellertson (D) Saint Louis Athletica

Allison Falk (D) Los Angeles Sol

Amy LePeilbet (D) Boston Breakers

Christie Rampone (D) Sky Blue FC

Goalkeeper of the Year Award

Jenni Branam (GK) Sky Blue FC

Caroline Jonsson (GK) Chicago Red Stars

Karina LeBlanc (GK) Los Angeles Sol

Erin McLeod (GK) Washington Freedom

Hope Solo (GK) Saint Louis Athletica

Hint Water Sportswoman of the Year (nominated by teams; voted on by players only)

Nancy Augustyniak Goffi (D) Boston Breakers

Amanda Cinalli (F) Saint Louis Athletica

Stephanie Cox (D) Los Angeles Sol

Jaimel Johnson (GK) Chicago Red Stars

Tiffeny Milbrett (F) FC Gold Pride

Christie Rampone (D) Sky Blue FC

Cat Whitehill (D) Washington Freedom

Other awards that will be presented include the Golden Boot Award presented by PUMA® to the league's leading goal scorer and the AdvoCare WPS Coach of the Year Award to the top coach in WPS, in which all league current coaches are nominated. Fan voting ends end on Friday at 8pm ET/5pm PT.

The 2009 WPS All-Star Game features the WPS All-Stars against Swedish league champions Umeå IK at The Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park in Fenton, MO, on Sunday, August 30th with kick-off scheduled for 5:30pm ET/4:30pm CT. The game will be televised live nationally on Fox Soccer Channel and regionally on select Fox Sports Net affiliates (check local listings) with coverage starting at 5:00 p.m. ET with a half-hour pre-game show prior to kick-off.

For information or to reserve tickets for the 2009 WPS All-Star Game call 1-888-STL-GOAL or visit Group and individual tickets are now on sale. The Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park is currently the home field of the Saint Louis Athletica and has a rich soccer tradition dating back almost three decades to when it opened in 1982.

Draft Update: WPS Expansion Teams Assigned No. 1 Positions for Upcoming Drafts

Women's Professional Soccer's two expansion teams joining the league for 2010, the Philadelphia Independence and the Atlanta Beat, have each been assigned their preferred top choice in the off-season drafts by the WPS Commissioner.

Philadelphia, which officially joined the league in March 2009, will select first in the WPS International Draft scheduled for September 22 and Atlanta, which was announced as the ninth team into WPS in June, will select first in the 2010 WPS Draft scheduled for Friday, January 15th at the NSCAA Convention in Philadelphia, PA.

These drafts will be preceded by the WPS Expansion Draft held on September 15 two weeks after the conclusion of the 2009 WPS Season and prior to the WPS International Draft in order to allow expansion teams to begin stocking their rosters for the 2010 season. Philadelphia and Atlanta will flip a coin to determine the order of selection in the 2009 Expansion Draft with the winner of the coin flip having the option to choose the #1 and #4 picks, or selections #2 and #3. Selections following the fourth pick will alternate. Basic draft mechanics are as follows:

2009 Expansion Draft - September 15 (via teleconference)

- Existing teams may protect up to 10 players (but must leave a minimum of 6 unprotected)

- Expansion teams must each select one player from each existing team prior to selecting a second player from an existing team. This will also hold true after a 2nd player is selected from an existing team: each team must select from each team prior to selecting a 3rd player from an existing team.

- Existing teams may protect two after losing first player

- Existing teams may protect one after losing second player

- An existing team may not lose more than three players

- Expansion teams may each select a total of nine players

2009 International Draft for Expansion Teams - September 22 (via teleconference)

- The maximum number of internationals an expansion team may select during the international expansion draft is 5, less any international players (e.g., non-green card holders) selected by a team in the expansion draft.

- As per current rules, no team may hold the rights to more than 6 internationals at any one time and may only roster 5 at any one time as per USSF regulations.

- The Philadelphia Independence will select first in the international draft, the Atlanta Beat second, alternating picks throughout.

2010 WPS Draft - January 15 (Philadelphia, PA)

- Atlanta Beat select first, Philadelphia Independence select second

- Existing teams draft 3 - 9 in reverse order of regular season finish in all rounds

- Expansion teams also draft 10th & 11th in first round only

Tiffeny Milbrett Replaces Formiga on WPS All-Star Team

WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci and All-Star Head Coach Abner Rogers have selected FC Gold Pride forward Tiffeny Milbrett to the 2009 WPS All-Star Team to replace the injured midfielder Formiga who missed action in the final few regular season games with a Right Knee Strain (MCL).

"It is an honor to be chosen for the team, but more importantly I am thrilled to represent FC Gold Pride in the game," said 2009 WPS All-Star Tiffeny Milbrett.

The Portland native delivered an All-Star worthy performance in the WPS' Inaugural Season ranking seventh among league leaders in shots (47) and shots on goal (20) and was second on the team in goals, with four. Taking Formiga's place among the starters will be Boston Breakers' forward Kristine Lilly.

2009 WPS All-Star Team Starters:

Name Position Team Country

Karina LeBlanc GK Los Angeles Sol Canada

Tina Ellertson D Saint Louis Athletica United States

Amy LePeilbet D Boston Breakers United States

Christie RamponeD Sky Blue FC United States*

Aya Miyama M Los Angeles Sol Japan*

Shannon Boxx M Los Angeles Sol United States

Lori Chalupny M Saint Louis Athletica United States

Megan Rapinoe M Chicago Red Stars United States*

Kristine Lilly M Boston Breakers United States^

Cristiane F Chicago Red Stars Brazil*

Marta F Los Angeles Sol Brazil

*next highest vote-getter to replace First XI

^ at-large selection

WPS All-Star Team Reserves (Commissioner/All-Star Team Head Coach Selections)

Name Position Team Country

Brittany Klein M Chicago Red Stars United States

Heather O'Reilly M Sky Blue FC United States

Tiffeny Milbrett F FC Gold Pride United States

Christine Sinclair F FC Gold Pride Canada

Hope Solo GK Saint Louis Athletica United States

Abby Wambach F Washington Freedom United States

Cat Whitehill D Washington Freedom United States

WPS Commissioner Presents Los Angeles Sol with 2009 Regular Season Trophy

Under bright and sunny skies in downtown Los Angeles, WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci delivered the inaugural WPS Regular Season Champion trophy to the Los Angeles Sol Sunday.

"It's exciting to be here today to recognize the Los Angeles Sol," said Commissioner Antonucci. "The Sol dominated the inaugural regular season of Women's Professional Soccer with their performance on the field and their dominance in the standings."

The Sol finished 12-3-5 during the 20-game regular season and clinched the top spot in the WPS Standings with three weeks left on the regular season schedule, earning them the right to host the WPS Championship presented by MedImmune on August 22 at The Home Depot Center.

"Many experts are calling this team the best women's professional soccer team on the planet, and you have them right here playing in your backyard," the Commissioner told the audience of fans that had gathered for the presentation.

"But their work isn't done yet," the Commissioner continued, pointing out that this Saturday's WPS Championship will determine the 2009 WPS Champion.

She then presented the 2009 trophy to Los Angeles Sol captain Shannon Boxx, who addressed the fans on behalf of her teammates. WPS fans were happy to see one player in attendance: Sol defender Christie Shaner was there with her team for the occasion. Shaner fractured her tibia/fibula on July 5th in a game against the Washington Freedom and underwent surgery the next day.

Women's Professional Soccer Partners with U.S. Coast Guard on WPS All-Star Game presented by the Coast Guard

Women's Professional Soccer and the U.S. Coast Guard announced earlier on Tuesday that the Coast Guard will be the presenting partner of the WPS All-Star Game. The partnership is the fifth national partner for WPS and second partner to present a post-season game following MedImmune signing on as presenting sponsor of the WPS Championship. As part of the All-Star sponsorship, the Coast Guard logo will appear on the front of the WPS All-Star Team jerseys.

"We are thrilled to have such a dynamic and treasured American institution as the Coast Guard as a partner in our league," said WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci. "Our WPS All-Star Game presented by the Coast Guard, is a signature event to conclude the WPS Season and will feature the best players in the world for an exciting soccer festival."

WPS Featured on CBS Evening News

In advance of the WPS Championship presented by MedImmune, CBS Evening News dispatched its production team and prominent reporter Kelly Wallace to a late-season Boston Breakers game for a feature on WPS, including interviews with Kasey Moore and Kristine Lilly. The report aired Sunday, August 16.

Goals by the Numbers

Top Scorers - Los Angeles Sol's Marta (9), Los Angeles Sol's Camille Abily (8), Washington Freedom's Abby Wambach (8), Chicago Red Star's Cristiane (7)

Goals by Team - Washington Freedom (32), Los Angeles Sol (27), Saint Louis Athletica (19), Sky Blue FC (19), Boston Breakers (18), Chicago Red Stars (18), FC Gold Pride (17)

Total Goals - 153 goals scored since WPS Inaugural Match on March 29, 2009 with an average of 2.15 goals per game.

Quickest Goal in League Play: 2nd minute of play, Eniola Aluko - Saint Louis Athletica vs. Sky Blue FC (6/28/09), Kelly Smith - Boston Breakers vs. Los Angeles Sol (5/2/09)

Quickest back-to-back goals by one team: 2 goals in 3 minutes - 42 minute, 45 minute - from Marta in Los Angeles Sol vs. Sky Blue FC match (4/5/09)

Quickest back-to-back goals by both teams: 2 goals in 58 seconds - 46 minute, 47 minute - from Kacey White and Lisa De Vanna in Sky Blue FC vs. Washington Freedom match (7/15/09)

Most Goals in One Game by one team: 4, Los Angeles Sol 4-0 Chicago Red Stars (6/27/09), Washington Freedom 4-3 FC Gold Pride (4/26/09), Chicago Red Stars 4-0 Boston Breakers (4/25/09), and Sky Blue FC 4-4 Washington Freedom (7/15/09)

Most Goals in One Game by both teams: 8, Sky Blue FC 4-4 Washington Freedom (7/15/09)

Most Goals in a Game by a player: 3, Cristiane (Chicago Red Stars vs. FC Gold Pride - 7/12/09)

Penalty Kick Rates: 64% success rate, 7 out of 11 attempted

Longest Scoring Drought: 451 minutes, Chicago Red Stars

WPS Media Info Section

The WPS Media Info Section is now up and running including specialty stats, attendance numbers, team media guides, contacts lists and other media information. It will become more comprehensive in the coming weeks in months in preparation for 2010.

Username: WPSinfo

Password: mediaWPS

Media Credentials - WPS Playoffs, WPS Championship and WPS All-Star Game

Media and photos credentials for the WPS Playoffs, WPS Championship and WPS All-Star Game will be handled by the local WPS team. Please direct media inquiries about any post-season games to the host team no later than 48 hours in advance of the game. The 2009 WPS All-Stadium credential will get you into the stadium for the post-season, but does not guarantee a spot in the press room unless you have contacted the local team in advance to request a spot. To obtain a credential application for the inaugural WPS Championship, please email your full name and media affiliation to:

Wednesday, August 19

WPS Playoffs - Super Semifinal

Saint Louis Athletica vs. Sky Blue FC (7 pm ET - FSC)

The Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park, Fenton, MO

Wednesday's intriguing contest between Sky Blue FC and Saint Louis Athletica will be a match-up of similar styles on the field, yet a match-up of two teams that have taken very dissimilar routes of getting to where they find themselves: in the WPS Super Semifinal, one step away from the WPS Championship presented by MedImmune on August 22.

Saint Louis has shown steady and incremental improvement all season, starting off slowly and building along the way. The Athletica ultimately clinched second place in the WPS Standings in their third-to-last game of the year and were the only team to defeat the Los Angeles Sol on their home turf at The Home Depot Center this season. Even when things were tough going for Saint Louis - they were the last WPS team to score a goal - Jorge Barcellos' side displayed a calm and focused disposition much like their head coach himself.

Sky Blue FC's year has been marked by challenges and adversity. Two coaching changes, and injuries and illnesses to their star forward, captain and starting goalkeeper along the way have made for eventful times in New Jersey. But no one has ever questioned the team's heart. Coming through with some big wins (and draws) down the stretch, Sky Blue FC earned a spot in the WPS Playoffs on the very last day of the WPS Regular Season when the Boston Breakers failed to defeat the Los Angeles Sol.

Then, to keep their storybook season alive, Sky Blue FC traveled down to the Maryland SoccerPlex last Saturday and defeated a Washington Freedom team that had been 2-0-1 against them in the regular season, had won four of five games and were a solid 5-2-3 on the year playing at home. The victory was highlighted by player-coach and captain Christie Rampone making two key substitutions in the second half, with both substitutes scoring soon after their insertion into the game.

In Saint Louis, Sky Blue FC will be facing a team that similarly dominated them on the scoreboard in the regular season. Saint Louis finished 3-0-0 vs. Sky Blue FC, but if shots taken were any measure of success between Sky Blue FC and Saint Louis Athletica, then the New Jersey-side would have walked away with the season series. Sky Blue FC outshot the Athletica a whopping 49-26. This included a 2-1 loss to Saint Louis at Yurcak Field in late June when Sky Blue FC had the run of play and a 21-5 edge in shots but still lost.

In the two previous match-ups at The Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park in Fenton, MO, the Athletica captured 1-0 victories on goals by Amanda Cinalli and Eniola Aluko. Indeed, similar to the absence of playmaker Sonia Bompastor for the Washington Freedom in this weekend's playoff game, the biggest test for Saint Louis will be finding a player to replace Aluko, a WPS All-Star, on the front line. Aluko had her hand in three of Athletica's four goals against Sky Blue FC this year. Instead, Saint Louis will counter with the pairing of Sarah Walsh and Christie Welsh up front.

Sky Blue FC will have to find a way to get the ball past Athletica keeper Hope Solo, who has been nothing short of phenomenal this season, especially in moments when the game is on the line. It is one thing to make brilliant saves when your team is up by a handful of goals, it's another to make crucial saves to preserve victories as Solo has done time and again. In fact, eight of the Athletica's 10 wins this season were by one goal, including seven 1-0 scorelines. In the tradition of some great Italian teams in history, don't be surprised to see the Athletica try to sit on a lead if they jump out early in the game. And if they do, will Sky Blue FC possess the guile - and emotional energy - to come back in the contest.


Super Semifinal of the WPS Playoffs between second-seeded Saint Louis Athletica and fourth-seeded Sky Blue FC will air on Fox Soccer Channel on Wednesday, August 19 at 7 pm ET/4pm PT.

TV listings for WPS Championship presented by MedImmune:

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Women's Professional Soccer Stories from August 18, 2009

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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