The St. Louis Athletica completed a successful inaugural season in 2009 with a 10-6-4 record that included a playoff run. Boasting one of the strongest defensive lines in the league, the Athletica only struggled with goal scoring.
In the 2010 WPS draft, the Athletica made the most of their late picks and selected several strong players who will make an impact in their second season.
Here are in-depth descriptions of each of the Athletica's seven draft picks from January 15. Included are the International players drafted in September, 2009.
Also profiled is a well-known player at the center of a surprising trade...
In a trade that came a mere 20 minutes before the draft began, St. Louis traded goalkeeper Jillian Loyden to the Chicago Red Stars for US International midfielder Lindsay Tarpley.
“This was a big opportunity for us to improve our club,” said Head Coach Jorge Barcellos in a WPS interview. "...we have received a midfielder that has world class credentials and ability. Lindsay Tarpley will be an amazing addition to Saint Louis Athletica."
The Kalamazoo, Michigan native scored 30 international goals for the United States and scored four during her time with Chicago last year. Her strong presence in the midfield and her nose for the goal will improve the Athletica's scoring position and offensive abilities.
The leadership that Tarpley brings will also be a huge asset. Tarpley joins several familiar faces in St. Louis. She will rejoin 2008 Olympic teammates Lori Chalupny and Hope Solo, and 2007 World Cup teammate Tina Ellerston. Tarpley and Chalupny played college soccer with Kendall Fletcher at the University of North Carolina, winning the 2003 National Championship together. Tarpley, Chalupny, Fletcher, and Angie Kerr (Woznuk) were members of the 2002 U-19 U.S. Women’s World Cup winning squad.
With the No. 17 overall draft pick, St. Louis began their day with the selection of UCLA forward Kristina Larsen. Currently in training with the U-23 National Team in Carson, California, Larsen was following the draft online.
“Each time another pick was made I got more and more nervous,” she told WPS press." The Mission Viejo, CA native completed her senior season at UCLA with nine goals, six assists, and 24 points, starting in 20 of 22 games she played.
In 2008, Larson lead the team in goals (13), ranked second on the team in scoring (30 pts.) and in game-winning goals (five).
In her national team career, Larsen was a member of the U-17 and U-20 National Team pools.
Says Larson, “I have heard that Athletica is a great environment to come to, and I hear that the fans are really welcoming. I am also excited to be moving out of California, I am ready to branch out.”
In the trade that brought Lindsay Tarpley to St. Louis, the Athletica traded young goalkeeper Jillian Loyden, leaving a vacancy to be filled. With the No. 19 overall pick, St. Louis had no doubts when they selected University of North Carolina goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris to join the team.
"This is a great opportunity for me to work with Hope Solo and learn from her,” said Harris to the WPS.
During her senior season, Harris was the third best in the nation in goals against average (0.416) and lead her team to the second-best shutout percentage in the nation (0.704).
Harris has had an impressive career, both at UNC and on the international stage as well. Beginning her collegiate career rehabbing two ACL injuries, but came back in time to play in all six NCAA Tournament games. In 2007 and 2008, Harris split time in goal with Anna Rodenbough.
Training with the full national team in September 2009, Harris continues to earn a place in the national team pool. Among her more notable national team statistics, Harris played every minute of the 2002 U-19 Women's World Cup, leading the US to the gold medal in a 1-0 win over Canada. Athletica teammate Lindsay Tarpley scored the lone goal in the final game). Harris was also a member of the 2004 US U-19 World Championship team.
Harris will provide an experienced and stable presence in the goal should Solo have National Team duties.
Despite being riddled with injury in both 2007 and 2008 which forced her to miss the seasons, Santa Clara midfielder Amanda Poach has the potential to wreck havok on the field. Selected as the 28th overall selection in the draft, Poach is strong in the air. She also possesses one of the strongest technical eyes in the nation and will be an attacking and defensive presence with the Athletica.
Poach began her collegiate career by being honored with All-America third team and started in 22 of the 23 games she played her freshman year in 2005. In 2006 she was named All-WCC First Team, starting in all 17 matches she played in.
Poach also brings national team experience to the Athletica. A member of the U20 national team, Poach helped lead team USA to the 2006 CONCACAF Qualifying Title. She was also a player on the U-20 National Team during the FIFA Under-20 World Championships.
“I am looking forward to going to a new city and playing for Athletica,” said Poach from Northern California following the draft. “I have played with a few Athletica players before like Kia McNeill and Angie Kerr (Woznuk).” Poach hails from Bowie, Maryland.
Selected in as the No. 37 draft pick overall, forward Veronica Perez leaves Washington ranked in the all-time top-10 in several categories. She ranks third in shots (194) and games played (83), fourth in game-winning goals (eight), tied for sixth in goals (21) and eighth in points (53). She also ranks in the single-season charts, with her 13 goals and six game-winners in 2008 both ranking third while her 31 points rank fifth.
Perez has been a commanding presence with the Washington Huskies, having earned two Second Team All-Pac 10 selections in 2008 and 2009. During those two years, Perez was named the team's Player of the Year and Offensive MVP award. In her stellar 2008 season, Perez lead the team in goals (13), game-winning goals (six), points (31) and shots (71) and tied for the team lead in assists (five).
During her career, Perez, from San Mateo, California, has played for both the Mexican National Team as well as the U-23 United States National Team.
Perez undoubtedly has a nose for the goal, and her offensive personality will be crucial in helping the Athletica to another playoff run in 2010.
Carolyn Blank started in every game that she played in her collegiate career (91). A tenacious defender and ball-winner, Blank has earned several accolades including SoccerBuzz All-American second team, and Big East All-Tournament team.
Versatile on the field, Blank played defense her first two years as a Mountaineer, making the transition to midfield her junior year.
She finishes her collegiate season with 196 shots, 13 goals, seven assists, and 33 points. A Toms River, N.J., native, Blank is West Virginia's all-time leader in matches started and played with 92. Blank was named a 2009 NSCAA first team all-Northeast region selection. She captained the team for two straight years, and also earned the honros of being named to TopDrawerSoccer’s Team of the Season third team.
“There are a lot of different emotions right now but it’s an exciting time,” says Blank to West Virginia University press, of furthering her career at the next level. “I love the game so much and to be able to continue playing is really special.”
Batavia, Illinois native Sarah Teegarden joins the Athletica draft picks as the 55th selection overall. A two-time All-American for the Panthers of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Teegarden didn't play soccer in 2009, insead serving as assistant coach for Alverno College.
Teegarden is another consistent player, having played in and started more games than any player in school history. She shares the school record for career game-winning goals (11) among her 42 career points (17 goals, eight assists). During her years at Milwaukee, Teegarden helped lead her team to three NCAA Tournaments.
With the 64th overall pick in the WPS draft, the Athletica rounded out their choices by selecting Duke midfield/forward Elisabeth Redmond. Hailing from Morristown, New Jersey, Redmond ties for sixth on Duke's all-time points list, and ranks fifth in shots taken with 195.
Her list of awards and accolades is extenisve. She received Soccer Buzz and All-ACC Freshman team honors in 2006, All-ACC and Soccer Buzz All-Southeast Region second team honors in 2007, and Soccer Buzz Fourth Team All-America and Second Team All-Southeast Region honors in 2008. Her senior season Redmond led the ACC and ranked sixth nationally in assists per game with a 0.6 per game average.
Said Redmond to Duke University press, "I didn't expect this at all. Playing professionally is obviously something I have always wanted to do and I wasn't ready for my career to be over with at the end of last year."
Her assisting talent as well as consistency in her heath and on the field will be essential to a struggling Athletica offense.
During the 2009 International WPS Draft held in September, St. Louis selected Swedish International forward Madelaine Edlund and Brazilian midfielder Elaine.
“In Madelaine Edlund, we now have a player that can complement and partner with Eniola Aluko," said head coach Jorge Barcellos.
Edlund joined Umea IK in 2006, appearing in over 130 matches and notching over 60 goals. She also was on the 2007 Swedish World Cup Team.
Edlund's strong ability to score goals will be a help to Athletica forward Aluko, who dominated the team in goals scored last season.
Also signed was Brazil's Elaine, a midfielder who was a member of the 2007 Brazilian Women's World Cup who played in five of Brazil's games in that tournament. She also was a member of the 2004 Brazilian Olympic Team.
Said Barcellos, "With Elaine, we have a player that gives us a lot of dynamic ability in midfield, strengthening an already strong core we have there.”
(photo: zimbio.com and daylife.com)
Finishing second in the league and advancing to the playoffs made the 2009 season a successful one for the St. Louis Atheltica. Though their playoff run was halted sooner than they hoped, the 2010 draft was aimed to improve on what the team lacked before: goal scoring and attacking presence.
Being fortunate to welcome back over half of their regular starters to the 2010 season, the Athletica have the ability to record another successful defensive season and with the new draft picks, many more goal tallies.
The season-opener is scheduled for April 11, 2010 against F.C. Gold Pride at Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park.
Tickets are on sale now at http://www.womensprosoccer.com/Home/stlouis/tickets/individual-tickets.aspx
Special thanks to Courtney Tallman for her help in editing this project!