Los Angeles, Calif. (April 17, 2011) – The Pali Blues are proud to announce that defender Whitney Engen has signed for the 2012 W-League campaign as the Blues go for their third league title in five years. For Engen, the move is a return to Pali where she helped the Blues win the W-League championship 2009 under head coach Charlie Naimo.
“To say I’m happy to bring Whit back is an understatement,” said Naimo. “She is a world class defender and one of the best competitors I have been around.”
Interestingly enough, Engen started her collegiate career at UNC as a starting forward and made the transition to center back after her sophomore year. She excelled at both scoring 18 goals and assisting 21 for the first half of her career, and then shutting teams down during her last two years.
In 2008, Engen and the rest of the Tar Heels overcame a 1-0 deficit versus Notre Dame to win their 19th NCAA title by a score of 2-1. In her final season at UNC in 2009, Engen helped shut down Stanford and the Heels took a 1-0 victory in the NCAA final that sent her and eight other seniors off on top.
Prior to her last championship at UNC, Engen helped the Pali Blues in their run to a second W-League championship in two years. However, she returned to UNC before she could participate in the final match, which the Blues won.
After a successful collegiate career, Engen was selected fourth overall in the WPS Draft by the Chicago Red Stars, a team where Naimo served as Technical Advisor, in 2010. She played and started all 24 matches for the Red Stars played that year.
In 2011, Engen moved to Western New York to play for the Flash where she was named one of WPS Best IX by the media, WPS Defender of the Year, and won the WPS Championship as the Flash earned a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Independence in the final.
Engen talked about why she decided to join the Blues this year.
“I know that Charlie Naimo is one of the best at assembling quality teams with talented and hard working players,” she said. “I have played for Charlie twice before, once with Pali in 2009 and then with the Chicago Red Stars in 2010. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and I really enjoy the competitive environment that he creates.”
“I am thrilled to be joining a class act group of girls and I believe that the team is going to have all of the pieces to contend for a Championship,” she added.
Photo: Howard C. Smith | ISI Photos