Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, Defender Whitney Engen Join Blues
Ashlyn Harris and Whitney Engen have won a pair of NCAA titles at UNC together
Pacific Palisades, Calif. (Friday, April 16, 2009) – The Pali Blues Soccer Club made two key acquisitions to their 2009 roster today, bringing on board a pair of standouts from the University of North Carolina. Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and defender Whitney Engen were announced today as the two newest members of the Blues, who will begin their W-League title defense at home on Saturday, May 9th, when they host the Los Angeles Legends.
"These additions are critical to the team,” Blues head coach Charlie Naimo commented. “We have had considerable success building up our attacking options thus far, but adding Whitney and Ashlyn brings us closer to matching the defensive crew we had last year."
Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris has played between the pipes for UNC since her freshman season. Heading into her senior year this fall, Harris already has a pair of NCAA championships backstopping the Tar Heels on her college resume. Prior to heading to Chapel Hill, the Florida native had a stellar career playing at Satellite High School on the eastern coast of the Sunshine State. After four outstanding seasons, Harris became the first four-time Parade Magazine All-American in women’s high school soccer history, and she secured NSCAA All-America honors all four years as well. She led the Scorpions to a pair of state championships (2002, 2003), and she capped off her 2004 senior year with Gatorade and Parade Magazine National Player of the Year accolades. Harris has played significant minutes with the U.S. National Team at virtually every level, and she is a current member of the U-23 squad. She has already reached major heights during her time suiting up for her country, winning the inaugural FIFA U-19 World Championship as a member of the United States side.
"I have been speaking with Ashlyn for years to join my team, and now she is finally available,” Naimo said. “She is one of the best keepers in the nation. She is acrobatic, amazing with her feet and knows how to lead. Ashlyn is also no stranger to winning. She was part of the first-ever U-19 Gold Medal team and has two national championships in the past three years at UNC.”
Whitney Engen brings three years of experience as a starter at UNC, playing in front of Harris as both a forward and a defender. The California native also has a pair of NCAA titles to her credit, notching 57 points on 18 goals and 21 assists in her first two collegiate seasons before unselfishly moving to the Tar Heel backline for her junior campaign last fall. Engen started all 28 games for the national champions, contributing three assists to the UNC attack. The Palos Verdes Peninsula High School graduate played nine years of club soccer, logging the last four years with Slammers FC. While playing for Newport Beach club, she helped her team to back-to-back state and regional championships (2004, 2005).
"Whitney is a rare athlete with a winning pedigree as well,” Naimo remarked. “Before UNC she was a part of the Slammers club that is a championship machine, and she has since has gone on to win two national titles with the Tar Heels. What is unique about Whit is that she was a leading scorer at UNC as a freshman and this past season was one of the best backs in the country while leading the Heels to another trophy."
With the latest acquisitions of Harris and Engen, the Blues have built another top-flight roster after sending 15 players from their 2008 W-League championship team to Women’s Professional Soccer. The team will open their league title defense against the Los Angeles Legends at the Stadium by the Sea on Saturday, May 9th, at 6:00 PM, attempting to set a world record for most people juggling a soccer ball at one time during halftime of the season opener. For more information about that world record attempt or to purchase tickets, fans are encouraged to call Blues General Manager Jason Lemire at (310) 264-4649.