Sept. 10, 2007
Five Notre Dame women's soccer alums - two as members of Team USA and three with the Canadian National Team - are set to begin competition in China at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup, which started early this morning with a game between Germany and Argentina. Notre Dame's total of five combined players on the U.S. and Canadian World Cup squads trails only North Carolina (six) among Division I programs that have produced 2007 World Cup players on those two national teams.
Defender Kate (Sobrero) MarkgrafSobrero('98 ND grad.) and defensive midfielder Shannon Boxx ('99) have returned from their respective layoffs (Markgraf due to the birth of her first child and Boxx due to a major knee injury) and are back in their starting roles for the United States National Team. Defender Candace Chapman ('05; played for ND from 2001-05) and forward Katie Thorlakson ('06) similarly have been starters for Team Canada, with their fellow Notre Dame alum Melissa Tancredi ('05) also making the 21-player World Cup roster as a defender for the Canadian side.
All of the games from the 2007 Women's World Cup are being broadcast live on EPSN or ESPN2 - with the time-zone difference requiring fans in North America to tune in early in the morning. The United States opens group play on Tuesday versus North Korea (ESPN2; 4:55 a.m. eastern) while Canada will start play in its group on Wednesday, against Norway (ESPN; 7:55 a.m.). The next game of interest for ND soccer fans would be on Friday (USA vs. Sweden; ESPN, 4:55 a.m.), followed by a game on Saturday between Canada and Ghana (ESPN; 4:55 a.m.). The USA's final game in group play will be on Tuesday, Sept. 18 (vs. Nigeria; ESPN, 7:55 a.m.) while Canada will wrap up group play the next day against Australia (Sept. 19; ESPN; 4:55 a.m.).
The 2007 Women's World Cup quarterfinals will be held on Sept. 22-23, followed by the semifinals on Sept. 26-27 and then the championship and third-place games on Sept. 30.
Notre Dame (2) joins UNC (5), Santa Clara (3) and Washington (2) as schools with multiple representatives (former/current players) on the USA's 21-player roster for the 2007 Women's World Cup. The other nine players on the team are alums (or current players) of Florida, Hawaii, UMass, Monmouth, Portland, Rutgers, SMU, Stanford and Virginia.
The BIG EAST Conference - with ND's Sobrero and Boxx and former Rutgers midfielder Carli Lloyd - joins three other conferences for having the most schools (each with two) represented on the 2007 U.S. Women's World Cup team. The Atlantic Coast (UNC and Virginia), West Coast (SCU and Portland) and Pacific-10 (Washington and Stanford) conferences also have players from two different schools on the U.S. team that currently is in China.
The United States roster includes several players who formerly were familiar foes for Notre Dame women's soccer fans - with those players including RU's Lloyd, the three Santa Clara players (midfielders Aly Wagner and Leslie Osborne, and defender Marian Dalmy), goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, (Stanford) and defender Stephanie Lopez (Portland).
In addition to UNC and Notre Dame, other Division I programs that feature multiple alums/current players on the U.S. or Canada World Cup rosters include Nebraska (4; all on Canada), SCU (3), Portland (3), Florida (2) and Washington (2). Noteworthy college soccer alums/current players on Team Canada include the four Nebraska alums (M Amy Walsh, M Brittany Timko, G Karina LeBlanc, and Tanya Dennis), plus forward Christine Sinclair (Portland), F/M Kara Lang (UCLA), goalkeeper Erin McLeod (Penn State), midfielder Diana Matheson (Princeton), and defenders Melanie Booth (Florida) and Robin Gayle (UNC). Gayle and Booth both missed recent games versus Notre Dame while Matheson similarly will miss Princeton's participation this weekend at the Inn at Saint Mary's Classic (to be held at ND's Alumni Field).
More than two-thirds of Canada's roster for the 2007 Women's World Cup (15 of 21) is comprised of former/current U.S. collegiate players.
Sobrero Markgraf - who gave birth to her son Keegan in July of 2006 - returned to Team USA this year and has battled through injuries while returning to the starting lineup. A starter on the 1999 (champion) and 2003 Women's World Cup team and the 2000 and '04 Olympic (gold) squads, Markgraf is expected to be a key member of the U.S. backline due to her recovery speed, heading ability, athleticism and leadership. She now ranks as of Team USA's most experience players (with nearly 160 career games played) and has the versatility to play centrally (alongside UNC alum Cat Reddick Whitehill) or in a flank defender role.
Boxx burst onto the international scene by making the 2003 World Cup Team - despite never previously appearing in a game with the full national team (the only player in history to do so). She since has emerged as one of the world's best defensive midfielders and finished third in the voting for FIFA's 2005 Women's World Player of the Year award. Boxx has battled back
from major knee surgery that kept her out for the second half of 2006 and the beginning of 2007. She scored the USA's first goal in the 2003 World Cup and started all six games for the 2004 Olympic gold-medal team, scoring the opening goal of that tournament as well as getting the game-winning
assist against Japan in the quarterfinal.
Known for her devastating ball-winning skills - both on the ground and in the air - Boxx also has proven to be very skillful with the ball at her feet and has become a key player in setting the USA's attacking rhythm. She scored in her first three career games with the national team (tying a U.S. record), including a memorable header against Sweden at the 2003 World Cup. Boxx has totaled 14 goals in her first 66 matches, an impressive scoring rate from the holding midfielder spot. She was named MVP of the prestigious Algarve Cup tournament in Portugal in both 2004 and 2006.
Chapman ranks 23rd in Canadian National Team history with 36 career games played while Thorlakson now has appeared in 23 games with the full national team (following a stellar career with Canada's Under-19 squad). Tancredi cracked the full national team shortly after completing her college career and enters the 2007 World Cup with 18 career games played as a member of Team Canada.
Stay tuned to und.com over the next few weeks for updates from the World Cup - in addition to checking out the following links from the USA and Canadian official team sites: