Friday, February 05, 2010

Independence selects G LeBlanc in Dispersal Draft

The Philadelphia Independence added yet another WPS superstar to the roster with the selection of Karina LeBlanc in the LA Sol dispersal draft.  LeBlanc is the current Canadian National Team goalkeeper and the WPS leader in shutouts in 2009, helping LA capture the regular season title with 12 clean sheets. "Karina LeBlanc and Hope Solo are hands down the two best goalkeepers in Women's Professional Soccer" said
Independence GM Terry Foley.  "Karina has the ability to come up with that one save that makes or breaks a game-she is a major reason that LA was so successful last year and we believe that she will be a huge asset to our defensive line."

LeBlanc earned her first cap with Canada's Full National Team in 1998, and has continued to prove herself as one of the world's top goalkeepers.  She competed at the 1999 Pan-American Games, led Canada to a spot in the 1999 Women's World Cup and a fourth-place finish at the 2003 World Cup, and has served as a worldwide ambassador for the Canadian Women's National Team. LeBlanc shone with Canada in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, posting 12 saves in her team's 2-1 overtime loss to eventual gold winner
Team USA. Independence Head Coach Paul Riley knows the impact that Karina can have in Philly: "She is a great shot blocker, superb positionally, and aggressive coming out of her goal. Karina's leadership qualities on and off the field will be critical for the squad.she is a big time gamer with big time personality."

After spending the last four years as an assistant coach for Rutgers University Women's Soccer, Karina has a strong connection with the tri-state area and is excited about the opportunity to play for Philadelphia: "I have
heard great things from top to bottom about the organization, from the coaching staff to the front office.  I am so thrilled to be joining the Independence to continue living my dream: playing the sport I love at the
highest level every day.  It's an exciting time and I'm really looking forward to the season."

Philadelphia acquired Karina with the second overall pick after Saint Louis Athletica, which traded several players to the Atlanta Beat to gain the first pick in the dispersal draft, used its selection to draft WPS All-Star
Shannon Boxx.  The San Francisco Bay Area team, FC Gold Pride, then selected Marta, WPS's Michelle Akers Player of the Year last year, with the third pick.  Marta was a 2009 WPS All-Star, led the league with 10 goals and was voted FIFA World Player of the Year in December for a record fourth time.

Other first round selections in the dispersal draft included two first round selections from the 2010 WPS Draft (college draft) with North Carolina's Casey Nogueira and Nikki Washington going to the Chicago Red Stars and Sky Blue FC, respectively. The Boston Breakers picked up veteran defender Stephanie Cox with the fifth pick, while the Washington Freedom grabbed one of last year's top rookies, Brittany Bock with the seventh selection. Closing out the first round, Saint Louis Athletica picked up another WPS All-Star and midfielder Aya Miyama.

Philadelphia also acquired another strong defender in the dispersal draft with their 15th pick overall, selecting Estelle Johnson from the University of Kansas.  After completing a standout senior season with the Jayhawks this fall, Estelle was picked 25th overall in the 2010 WPS College Draft by the Los Angeles Sol.  "Former Sol GM Charlie Naimo thinks very highly of Johnson" said Foley of the team's decision to bring Johnson to Philadelphia. "She had a great college career and we are excited to see what she will add to the Independence."

The acquisition of LeBlanc and Johnson further strengthens the Independence roster and will make the defensive line one of the toughest in the league. "We are excited about the results of today's dispersal draft and we are certain that all the Sol players will be great assets to whichever teams they were selected by" said Foley.  "They add even more depth to each team, and we believe it will only intensify the competition of every game." 
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