Sacramento, California. (May 12, 2012): The California Storm will feature several big names in women's soccer when they return to Women's Premier Soccer League(WPSL) action for the 2012 season. Rejoining the Storm will be former U.S. Women's National Team members Brandi Chastain and Aly Wagner and former Brazil Women's National Team member Sissi. Stanford standouts Teresa Noyola and Lindsay Taylor will also be back on the team, along with several other Storm veterans.
Over the years Storm, one of the founding members of the WPSL, has helped to develop a number of successful women's players, including Chastain and Julie Foudy. Head Coach Jerry Zanelli, who is also Commissioner of the WPSL, is particularly proud of his role in helping Chastain return to form after being cut early in her career with the National Team. The talented defender and sometime-midfielder had started her career as a forward, but was edged out from the team at that position. Zanelli helped to remake Chastain as a defender, and the rest was history.
Chastain is perhaps best remembered for her bra-baring celebration after scoring the game-winning penalty kick in a shootout between the USA and China in the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup final. What is often forgotten is that she played 192 international matches with the National Team, scoring 30 goals in the process. Chastain scored her first international goal – one of five in the match – in a 12-0 win against Mexico during a 1991 CONCACAF qualifying match for the Women's World Cup.
Perhaps Chastain's determination and drive were best displayed during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta when she played every minute of every U.S. match. Even after she suffered a serious knee injury in the semifinal match against Norway, Chastain continued on the field to help the American women to the gold medal.
"We are very pleased to have Brandi returning to the Storm for 2012," said Zanelli. "She has contributed her talent to the Storm for many years and has scored numerous goals for us."
Chastain will not be the only player with international experience on the team. Wagner, who graced the National Team from 1998 to 2008, will join the Storm as an attacking midfielder. She appeared in 131 international matches and scored a total of 21 goals. She was also the first player chosen in the inaugural Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) draft in 2003, picked by the San Diego Spirit. She was later traded to the Boston Breakers. In 2009 Wagner played for the Los Angeles Sol of Women's Professional Soccer(WPS).
A third member with international credentials is former Brazil star Sissi, who spent several years playing for the Storm before moving to FC Gold Pride of the WPS in 2009. At the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup Sissi scored seven goals and was the co-recipient of the Golden Boot Award with China's Sun Wen. Prior to joining Storm in 2004, Sissi played for the WUSA San Jose CyberRays.
"Sissi is an outstanding player who is a former Brazilian National Team member," said Zanelli, "and as Co-Captain has led the Storm to multiple victories. FIFA acknowledged Sissi as being one of the fifteen best women soccer players to ever play the game."
The Storm will also have the services of talented Stanford players Noyola, Taylor andRachel Quon, who helped lead the Cardinal to the NCAA Division 1 Championship. Noyola was named NCAA Player of the Year and is currently part of the Mexican Women's National Team. She was also a top pick in the 2012 WPS Draft, although the suspension ended her hopes of playing in the league. Taylor was named a Stanford All-American player and is now on the U.S. U-23 Women's National Team along with Quon. Both Noyola and Taylor have been with Storm since their high school days.
I'm very proud of Teresa," said Zanelli. "She loves to learn; she'll soak up any information that's around. She got to play alongside of Sissi, which helped her to learn. I used to call her "Little Sissi," but I talked to her about a week before the WPS Draft and told her "You're no longer Little Sissi, you're Big T."
Returning to Storm from playing in the WPS areAllison Falk and Tracy Hamm. Falk, another Stanford graduate, spent the 2008 season with Storm before moving to the Los Angeles Sol in 2009 and thePhiladelphia Independence in 2010. The talented defender scored the first goal in WPS history, on March 29, 2009, on an assist from Aya Miyama. She also scored the Independence's first WPS goal in 2010.
A standout for the California Golden Bears, Hamm returned to her alma mater as an assistant coach in 2009. As a player she led the team in scoring as a freshman and was a three-time All-Pac 10 Academic Honorable Mention. Hamm was drafted originally by FC Gold Pride in 2009 and later played with Atlanta Beat. After graduating in 2006 she played with Storm until moving on to the WPS.
Storm will also welcome back veteran players Maureen Whitney, Katie McCoy, Felicia Novoa, Leah Larot, Katie Oakes and Rachel Mercik for the 2012 season. Looking to the future, the team will add several current collegiate athletes from the region. Joining Storm from UC Berkeley will be Emily Kruger, Kaitlin Fitz Patrick, Amanda Glass andKory Lament. Saint Mary's will contribute Caroline Kreuz and Vicki Shimkus, whileKortney Agdeppa will join from UOP. Finally, Santa Rosa Junior College will provideCara Curtin and Lauren Curtin to the Storm family.
California Storm finished the 2011 season with a 5-4-1 (W-L-T) record in the WPSL Pacific-North Conference. The Storm will open the 2012 season hosting the San Diego SeaLions, who finished 8-1-1 in the Pacific-South Conference, on Saturday, May 19, at 7:00 p.m. Conference action begins on Saturday, May 26, when Bay Area Breeze visit Storm's home field at Folsom High School.
About the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL):
The Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) is the largest national Women's Soccer League in the world. With more than 70-plus women's soccer teams, the WPSL is the leading amateur soccer league in America. The league is sanctioned by the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) as an affiliate of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). The WPSL's mission is to provide opportunities to further the women's soccer game for the aspiring professional, international-level players and passionate amateurs. The WPSL season and brings affordable & quality family entertainment to the community; displays positive role models for our youth; and offers the essential connection between youth and pro women's soccer in America.