By Dave Kiefer
Stanford Sports Information
Coming off a record-breaking season in which she was recognized as the best player in collegiate women's soccer, Stanford forward Christen Press was selected fourth in the Women's Professional Soccer draft on Friday by the franchise that played last year as the Washington Freedom.
Press, who was awarded the prestigious Hermann Trophy last week, became the third Stanford player in the past two years to go in the first round, following Kelley O'Hara (third) and Ali Riley (10th), who were selected by FC Gold Pride last year.
With the Washington franchise, Press could be paired with U.S. National Team star Abby Wambach on the forward line. The Freedom, which also includes Press' former Stanford teammate Marissa Abegg, went 8-9-7 last season and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
The franchise is under new ownership and is expected to undergo a name change and perhaps a change in location, as well.
The WPS heads into its third season with six teams - down from seven last year. All six are based in the Eastern U.S. FC Gold Pride, which included O'Hara, Riley, Nicole Barnhart and Rachel Buehler and was based in San Jose, ended operations following this past season.
Press, a native of Palos Verdes, led the nation in goals (26) and points (60) while helping the Cardinal reach the College Cup final and finish with a 23-1-2 record. Her goals tied the school's single-season scoring record, set in 2009 by O'Hara.
The senior leaves the program as the most prolific scorer in Stanford history, establishing career records in goals (71), assists (41) and points (183). Stanford also was 67-0-1 over her career in matches in which Press scored or assisted.
Press earned Pac-10 Conference Player of the Year and NSCAA first-team All-America honors. She also excelled in the classroom, earning first-team Academic All-America honors and winning the Pac-10's Scholar-Athlete of the Year for women's soccer.
Press will become the eighth Stanford player all-time to join the league, which was created in 2009 by former Stanford scoring leader Tonya Antonucci (class of '90).
Press becomes the sixth former Stanford player on a current WPS roster. Others are Abegg, Rachel Buehler and O'Hara of the Boston Breakers, Allison Falk of the Philadelphia Independence, and Riley, now of the Western New York Flash.
Barnhart, the 2010 WPS Goalkeeper of the Year for the Gold Pride, is currently out of contract.