April 9, 2002
CHICAGO - Santa Clara University freshmen Jessica Ballweg and Leslie Osborne have been named to the U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team roster that will face the Jamaican and Canadian squads this weekend, U.S. head coach Tracey Leone announced today. The Bronco duo started every contest this season as Santa Clara won its first-ever national championship in women's soccer.
The USA, Jamaica and Canada will participate in a round-robin tournament at the Sunrise Hilton Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The USA will play Jamaica on April 12 at 7 a.m. Pacific Time and Canada on April 14 at 9 a.m. Jamaica and Canada will square off on April 13 7 a.m. USA and Jamaica are gearing up for the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament while Canada already has a berth into the first-ever world soccer championship for youth women due to its status as host.
The event gives Leone a final look at her players before naming the 18-woman roster that will represent the USA at the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament, to be held May 7-11, 2002, on the islands of Trinidad & Tobago. The winners of the two groups in that tournament will earn berths to the first-ever FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship to be held August 17 through Sept. 1 in Canada.
Leone's 20-player roster for the Jamaica and Canada games features seven college freshman, nine high school seniors, two high school juniors and two sophomores. Four of the players, defender Amy Steadman, midfielder Lori Chalupny and forwards Heather O'Reilly and Kelly Wilson have earned caps for the senior U.S. Women's National Team. Steadman and Chalupny played for the USA at the 2001 Algarve Cup in Portugal, earning four caps each, while O'Reilly and Wilson played for the USA a month ago at the 2002 Algarve Cup. O'Reilly played in all four matches while Wilson played in three, picking up the first goal and first assist of her full national team career. Wilson was the U-19s leading scorer in 2001, pounding in 12 goals in 13 games. Defender Jill Oakes, the 2002 Parade Magazine High School Player of the Year, and Chalupny, both played major roles for the U.S. Under-21 National Team last summer, helping the squad to the Nordic Cup title.
"I've been with this team for a year and half and I've discovered that they are an extraordinary and unique group of athletes and people," said Leone, a member of the USA's 1991 Women's World Cup Team. "They really remind me of our '91 team. The chemistry, the leadership, the level of commitment and mental toughness are truly special. Since FIFA announced the U-19 world championship at the end of 2000, it's been a wonderful journey, but also a tough one for all the players. The bond that this group has formed over that time is very rare."
The U-19s are stocked with offensive firepower. Forward Lindsey Tarpley is a devastating one-on-one attacker while Megan Kakadelas is a wonderfully slippery dribbler. In the midfield, the U-19s feature skills and ball-winning ability with Oakes, who can also play in the back, Chalupny and the deceptive Alison Graham. Manya Makoski is a devastating flank player, Annie Schefter adds smoothness and scoring, while Sarah Huffman adds hardness.
The U-19s also boast some tremendously talented defenders, including Ballweg and Osborne, both members of Santa Clara's 2001 NCAA championship team. The USA will be without the services of captain Keeley Dowling for the qualifying tournament as she is still recovering from an ankle injury suffered during the tour of Mexico in early March. In goal, Leone has three talented players in high school junior Kim Bingham, sophomore Ashlyn Harris and Auburn University freshman Megan Rivera. Tarpley will take over the captain's role.
"This team has handled the pressure of the selection process, all the travel and the difficulty of missing school, and found a way to make it all work," added Leone. "It's hard to foster chemistry during a process that like, but this team actually formed a stronger union. It's a very unselfish team. While we've developed a strong core, we've also looked at over 60 players in large and talented pool that has battled to make this roster. With all the camps and games we've had I know we will be very happy with the team we select."