By Joseph Beyda
Former Stanford players have continued to excel in Women's Professional Soccer, earning individual honors and helping their teams to success.
Christen Press became the second consecutive Stanford alum to win the WPS Rookie of the Year award, following Ali Riley's accomplishment last year. Press scored eight goals for magicJack of Boca Raton, Fla., finishing fifth among the league leaders and only two behind high scorer Marta.
Press, who won the Hermann Trophy in 2010 after leading Stanford into the NCAA final, had the first hat trick by a rookie in the league's three-year history.
She was among six former Cardinal players to reach the WPS playoffs, making Stanford among the best-represented schools in the postseason. Of the more than 40 colleges represented, only Portland has more former players on playoff squads, with seven.
MagicJack eliminated the Boston Breakers, 3-1, in the opening round of the four-team playoffs, with Press earning an assist, to advance to the "super semifinal" against the Philadelphia Independence on Saturday. The winner will face the Western New York Flash, who finished atop the league in the regular season, in the Aug. 27 final. Each of the four squads had at least one former Stanford player.
Press after setting school career records with 71 goals on 500 shots and leading the nation with 26 goals in 2010, the Pac-10 Conference Player of the Year was drafted fourth overall. Press is second on her new team in goals, behind only U.S. Soccer star Abby Wambach, who has nine and now serves as player-coach.
Press met two former Stanford players in the first round, Boston's Rachel Buehler and Kelley O'Hara. Both played for the U.S. in this summer's World Cup, with Buehler starting most of the tournament as a defender and scoring in the opener. A 2006 graduate, Buehler has made 49 starts in her professional career, playing for two years with the now-disbanded FC Gold Pride before moving to Boston this season. Meanwhile, O'Hara is on track to lead the side in scoring after winning the Hermann as a senior in 2009, having posted a team-best four goals.
Waiting in the semifinals is another pair of Cardinal alumnae, Philadelphia's Nicole Barnhart and Allison Falk. Barnhart has split starting duties at goalkeeper, posting a 1.11 goals-against average in nine starts as well as serving as a U.S. reserve at the World Cup. Falk, a central defender for Stanford who graduated in 2008, has missed the season due to injury.
Ali Riley '09 has started 15 matches for the Flash as one of the squad's leading defenders. Riley made the trip to Germany for the World Cup this summer as well, representing New Zealand.