New Zealand National Team Midfielder Ali Riley Signs with Team
Ali Riley is the first signing for the defending W-League Champions (Photo courtesy of Palisadian-Post)
Pacific Palisades, Calif. (Wednesday, January 14, 2009) – The defending USL W-League Champion Pali Blues Soccer Club announced today their first acquisition for the 2009 season after signing New Zealand National Team midfielder Ali Riley. The Stanford University junior comes to the Blues one summer after playing every minute of the 2008 Olympic Games for New Zealand.
"We are so excited to get the ball rolling with the signing process, and I cannot think of anyone better then Ali,” Blues head coach Charlie Naimo stated. “Not only is she a great player with a world of experience, she is a Palisadian. We had hoped she would have been with us last year, but she was competing in the Olympics."
Riley has over 20 caps with the New Zealand National Team, and she was a member of the Football Ferns’ first World Cup club in 2007. She hit the first and only international goal for New Zealand in an Olympic tuneup against China on July 17, 2008, and she had an assist in the first goal of their opening Olympic match last summer. She showed her versatility on the pitch this past fall after converting from forward to defender for her junior season at Stanford. With All-Pac 10 accolades already on her resume, the Pacific Palisades native has high expectations for her upcoming senior year. The Harvard-West Lake High School graduate also spent time suiting up for the Westside Breakers Soccer Club and the So Cal United Soccer Club during her youth playing days.
“I am so excited to play in Pali, for my family and all of our friends who have supported me throughout the years,” Riley remarked. “Playing with such talented players will be inspirational, and I am excited to learn from them. I want to improve everyday and see what it takes to make it at the highest level. It will prepare me for my final year at Stanford, and hopefully for a professional career!”
Since winning the 2008 W-League crown, the Blues saw seven players taken in the initial draft of Women’s Pro Soccer, and several additional players have also inked professional contracts with WPS clubs since then. The Blues were named the 2008 W-League Organization of the Year following their inaugural season while team executive Kenzo Bergeron received W-League Key Grip of the Year honors. Since winning the W-League title, Naimo was also named General Manager of the WPS Los Angeles Sol, and the Palisadian-Post rewarded him as the 2008 Coach of the Year. Bergeron also joins the Sol as Director of Team Operations.
Blues General Manager Jason Lemire additionally voiced his excitement about the game of women’s soccer in the Palisades.
"These are exciting times for us,” Lemire remarked. “We have watched half our team get drafted after a championship, and now it is time to top it in ‘09. Our staff has all the confidence that we will succeed in doing so. Our fans have a lot to be excited about."
The Blues return to the pitch for their sophomore campaign in the W-League this upcoming May. Stay tuned to the team website at www.bluessoccerclub.com for all of the latest information on the 2008 W-League champions.