In its inaugural season of play, the Women's Professional Soccer League learned quickly why Notre Dame is one of the nation's premier college programs. The seven-team league has seen plenty of Notre Dame alumni in its premier events, including both the WPS Championship and the WPS All-Star Game in August.
On Aug. 22, two-time defending Hermann Award Winner Kerri Hanks ('08) and Jen Buczkowski ('07) led New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC to the WPS Title with a 1-0 upset victory over the regular season champions, the Los Angeles Sol 1-0.
In taking down the Sol, Hanks and Buczkowski defeated fellow Notre Dame alumni Brittany Bock ('09) and Shannon Boxx ('99).
Former Irish player Christie Shaner ('07) was also on the Sol roster, but was not able to play due to injury. In total, with five former players on the championship rosters, Notre Dame tied with North Carolina for most alumni in the game.
Irish coach Randy Waldrum was thrilled about the success of his former players in the new league.
"It's really exciting," Waldrum said. "It says a whole lot about the level of the program we're running and the kind of kids that we're not only getting to come into the school but how we're developing them. I'm really proud of them, and we think it's really good for our program."
As the young league grows, Waldrum believes the WPS is great for the future of women's soccer in America and that his players will continue to excel.
"As little as 10 years ago, there wasn't much opportunity for [female] athletes to play after college," Waldrum said. "We had a pro league that failed with the WUSA so we hope that the league is better this time around."
"I do think that the young [Notre Dame alumni] have a good future to look at with the WPS," Waldrum continued. "The league is looking very good for the future of women's soccer. [The American] women's team has either been the champion or runner up in the World Cup or Olympics but others are catching up so we need that league to survive for us to continue to play and get better after college."
Waldrum also thinks that many members of Notre Dame's talented current roster may be able to translate their success on campus into success in the young league as well as their former Irish counterparts.
"I think out of our senior class, Courtney Rosen is out, but she's our one senior this year who I thought certainly would go into the league and play but she might come back for a 5th year," Waldrum said. "[Senior] Michele Weissenhoffer could also go if she wanted to."
"A lot of the young ones, including [sophomore] Jessica Schuveiller, [sophomore] Courtney Barg, [sophomore] Melissa Henderson, [freshman] Tereza Statsny, and [junior] Lauren Fowlkes, who played on the American under-20 team, have the potential to play in that league," Waldrum continued. "A sleeper in there could be [senior] Haley Ford if that's a direction she wants to go, but we've got quite a few players who might be in the league in a few years."