DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. – After recently wrapping up a stellar career for the Northern Arizona soccer team, senior Sam Monahan takes her first step towards a potential professional soccer career beginning today. Monahan will take part in a two-day tryout with the Philadelphia Independence of Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) on Thursday and Friday at the United Sports Training Center, the official training facility of the Independence.
"Going into the tryout, I expect the play to be much faster," Monahan said. "For myself, I see this as an opportunity to show that I am capable of playing at that level. Over the next two days, I hope to learn a lot from these players and I know they are going to challenge me to a level I have never experienced before. Even though it's only two days, I hope to become a better player overall."
Monahan received an invitation to the tryout after head coach Andre Luciano inquired to the Philadelphia based franchise about his senior midfielder. The tryout will allow players to display their skills for the Independence coaches through technical drills, as well as both short sided and full field games.
The Independence will enter its third season in 2012 as part of the five-team WPS. Led by Paul Riley, the WPS Coach of the Year in 2010 and 2011, the team has reached the championship match in each of its first two seasons. The Independence features a roster with a wealth of international soccer experience, including three members of the U.S Women's National Team that finished runner-up at the 2011 World Cup and three members of the National Team that took home the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
"I know they are a really great program," Monahan said. "They have come very close to winning a championship, but have fallen short. I know they are looking to win their first championship title next year."
Monahan, one of 10 Lumberjacks in program history with multiple All-Big Sky first team selections, was a unanimous first team selection this season. She was the only player to start all 19 matches for NAU in 2011 and led the team with a career-high seven goals, as well as assists and points. She left the program second in career assists, fifth in points, tied for fifth in shots and eighth in goals.
With hopes of continuing her soccer career at the professional level in the WPS, Monahan has been in training, getting as many touches on the ball as possible, since the conclusion of her final collegiate season in October. In addition to the WPS, options overseas in Europe also are possibilities for her.
"It means the world to me to get a shot at the WPS," Monahan said. "This is something that I really have been working for my whole life. Doing what I love as my professional career is my goal. Whether it's in the U.S. or playing overseas, it would be an experience of a lifetime."
Monahan hopes to leave an impression on the Independence coaching staff over the next two days, prior to the WPS college draft. The draft will take place on January 13, 2012 in Kansas City, Kan. at the NSCAA annual convention.
More information on the Philadelphia Independence can be found here on their official website.