Sports

Stanford grads O'Hara, Press named to USA soccer roster

 

Three days removed from a 5-0 victory against the Republic of Ireland after the completion of January Camp, U.S. Women's National Team head coach Jill Ellis selected 20 players for the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship to be held from Feb. 10-21 in Frisco and Houston, Texas.

The roster includes former Stanford All-Americans Kelley O'Hara and Christen Press.

"This was an exceptionally challenging roster to select," said Ellis. "The players all worked and competed very hard in the January Camp and that made the final decisions extremely difficult."

The roster consists of three goalkeepers, seven defenders, five midfielders and five forwards, although many of the selected players can play multiple positions.

"With only 17 field players allowed on the roster, and minimal time in between matches, I think we have one of the most versatile rosters ever for a qualifying tournament," Ellis said. "Most of the field players are capable of playing at least two positions and as CONCACAF competitions generally present teams that will sit low and get numbers behind the ball, it is important to have players that can individually and collectively break teams down to create chances."

The team includes 13 members of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup championship team and seven Olympic qualifying veterans, three of whom (Hope Solo, Tobin Heath and Carli Lloyd) took part in qualifying for the 2008 Olympics.

The U.S. Women's National Team has qualified for five consecutive Olympic games and won each of the past three CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying tournaments. The USA has never lost a match in Olympic qualifying, but tied Canada 1-1 in the title game of the 2008 tournament before winning in penalty kicks.

With a top-two finish in the tournament, the U.S. WNT would join Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, South Africa, Zimbabwe and New Zealand, who already have qualified, in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August.

The USA hopes to win gold at a fourth consecutive Olympiad and the fifth time in team history. Should the USA qualify and then come out victorious in Rio, the U.S. WNT would be the first team in international women's soccer history to win a World Cup and Olympic gold in back-to-back years.

The USA is set to begin Olympic Qualifying group play against Costa Rica on Wednesday, Feb. 10 .

Meanwhile, the U.S. Under-23 Women's National Team defeated the Republic of Ireland, 3-0, in a friendly match Monday at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson.

The starting lineup for the USA included both captains, former Sacred Heart Prep and UCLA star Abby Dahlkemper from Menlo Park and current Stanford All-American Andi Sullivan. Current Cardinal keeper Jane Campbell did not play. Dahlkemper currently plays for the Western New York Flash.

Water polo

The draw for the upcoming Women's Olympic Qualification Tournament was determined this past weekend at the European Championship in Belgrade, Serbia.

The USA Women's National Team, reigning Olympic champion, will have to finish in the top four to earn a berth to the 2016 Olympic Games.

Team USA was drawn into Group A alongside defending Olympic silver medalist Spain. Other group members include Japan, South Africa, Canada and Greece. Group B consists of France, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, Cuba, and the Netherlands. Qualification competition will take place this March 21-28 in Gouda, Netherlands.

This event represents the only opportunity for Team USA to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games set for this August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The USA Women are next in action this February 16-21 at the FINA Women's Intercontinental Tournament in Lewisville, Texas.

— U.S. Soccer/USA Water Polo

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