July 15, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - When the United States women's soccer team takes the pitch against Japan in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup final on Sunday afternoon at World Cup Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany (2:30 p.m. ET on ESPNHD, ESPN3.com, Galavision and ESPN Radio), a Notre Dame women's soccer alumna is sure to be right in the heart of the action as the Americans go for an unprecedented third world championship.
Central midfielder Shannon Boxx ('99) has been a starter for the U.S. National Team since the moment she joined the program prior to the 2003 Women's World Cup, and after helping the Stars & Stripes to third-place finishes at the '03 and '07 World Cups (and earning a place on the '03 FIFA All-World Cup Team), the Torrance, Calif., native has provided a critical veteran presence and leadership role on the road to the Americans' first title match appearance since 1999 (when they defeated China in the final on penalty kicks at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., not far from Boxx's hometown).
At this year's World Cup, Boxx has started four of five matches to date, sitting out a 3-0 group-play victory over Colombia to rest before the elimination rounds. In the epic quarterfinal win over Brazil on July 10 in Dresden, Germany (the USA drew 2-2, but advanced 5-3 on penalties), Boxx played all 120 minutes, setting up the Americans' first goal in the second minute with a pinpoint cross from the left endline that caromed into the net off a Brazilian defender for an own-goal. The Fighting Irish alumna then got things going for the Stars & Stripes in the penalty kick shootout, leading off and converting her try from the 12-yard spot.
One of the leading vote-getters for the 2005 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year award, Boxx has earned 150 career caps (international appearances) during her tenure with the United States National Team, combining a physical presence with a cool and calm demeanor in providing one of the key links in the ball-control transition game between defense and offense. With Boxx in the lineup, the U.S. has won two Olympic gold medals (2004 in Athens, Greece; 2008 in Beijing, China), in addition to its two prior third-place World Cup showings -- she has 22 career goals for the United States, including a tally in a 3-0 win over England in the 2007 World Cup quarterfinals.
During her college career from 1995-98, Boxx helped lead Notre Dame to three consecutive NCAA College Cup appearances (1995-97), including the '95 national championship and a runner-up finish in '96. She never missed any of the 101 matches in her tenure under the Golden Dome (one of only 11 Fighting Irish players ever to manage that feat), registering 39 goals and 57 assists (135 points), ranking among the top 16 in school history in six career categories -- consecutive matches played (tied-third), assists (sixth), matches played (tied-sixth), matches started (tied-ninth), points (12th) and goals (16th). A three-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection (1996-98) and team captain as a senior in 1998, Boxx went on to earn bachelor's degrees in psychology and African-American studies from Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters in 1999.
Should she and her United States teammates prevail in Sunday's final, Boxx would become the second Notre Dame women's soccer alum to be part of a World Cup champion. In 1999, Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf ('98) was the youngest member of the United States roster, starting at center back throughout that tournament, including the final against China when she played all 120 minutes.
For more information on the Notre Dame women's soccer program, join the Fighting Irish women's soccer news Twitter page (www.twitter.com/NDsoccernews) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the sidebar on the women's soccer page at UND.com.