Stanford grad Press ready for world's biggest soccer stage


Those who have followed Christen Press since her days at Stanford have been waiting for this World Cup for a long time.

It was obvious throughout her Cardinal career that Press (class of '11) was capable of great things on the biggest of stages. She only needed the opportunity. Now she has it.

She's a master of creating shots and scoring from all angles. She's fast and determined, and has that instinct that allows her to take on defenses and beat them. It was seen time and again at Stanford where her breakaway goals were legendary. Now, she's about to show the rest of the world.

Press is among five former Stanford players -- all teammates on the Cardinal team that reached the 2009 NCAA final -- who will play in the FIFA World Cup in Canada, which begins Saturday. They represent three countries in the 24-team event: Press and Kelley O'Hara '10 for the United States, Alina Garciamendez '13 and Teresa Noyola '12 for Mexico, and Ali Riley '10 for New Zealand.

This is the third World Cup for Riley, and second for O'Hara, Garciamendez, and Teresa Noyola, and the first for Press – Stanford's all-time leading scorer, with 71 goals from 2007-10.

Like teammates O'Hara (2009) and Noyola (2011), Press won the Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy as college soccer's best player, in 2010. But while many expected that she would get interest from the U.S. national team, it didn't happen.

When Women's Professional Soccer folded, Press left for Sweden in 2012. She thought her opportunity to play for the national team was lost, but it had only just begun. She became the first American to lead the Damallsvenskan in scoring, with 23 goals, and finally caught the attention of then-coach Pia Sundhage.

Press scored two goals in her U.S. national team debut on Feb. 9, 2013, against Scotland, and has since scored 20 goals in 41 appearances. If any U.S. player seems the verge of stardom, Press is the one. All she's needed is a major tournament to show why. And here it is.

What: FIFA Women's World Cup

When: June 6-July 5

Where: Canada (Edmonton, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Winnipeg)

Who: 24 national teams

Former Stanford players in tournament: Alina Garciamendez '13 (Mexico), Teresa Noyola '12 (Mexico), Kelly O'Hara '10 (U.S.), Christen Press '11 (U.S.), Ali Riley '10 (New Zealand).

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