Los Angeles, Calif. – The Pali Blues are excited to announce their first four players for the 2013 W-League season, set to kick off on Saturday, May 18 at home versus the LA Strikers. UCLA Bruins Jenna Richmond, Abby Dahlkemper, plus 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup champions Sarah Killion and Samantha Mewis will play for the Blues just down the road from their school, where they fell just short of an appearance in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament in the fall of 2012.
“With the NWSL it was important for us to shift back to a team predominantly stacked with the top college players in the country, similar to what we had in 2009,” said Pali Blues Head Coach Charlie Naimo. “Adding Abby, Samantha, Jenna and Sarah puts a huge dent in creating that class again.’
Richmond, a midfielder from Centreville, Va., is heading into her final season at UCLA. As a freshman in 2010, she started all 21 matches she played in, ending the season with five goals and four assists for a total of 14 points. Richmond’s immediate impact on the team earned her a spot on the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team that year.
In 2011, Richmond started 20 of 21 matches and finished the year with four goals and led the Bruins in assists (seven) along with fellow teammate, Samantha Mewis. She added another team-best seven assists in 2012.
Richmond also brings a wealth of Youth National Team experience, having played with the U-15, U-16, U-17, and U-20 US Women’s National Teams. She was part of the U-20 squad that won the 2012 CONCACAF Championship for a berth to the U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a tournament in which she started all three group matches.
Defender Abby Dahlkemper, from Menlo Park, Calif., comes to Pali with two seasons at UCLA under her belt, in addition to her U-17 and U-20 youth national team training. In her first season at UCLA, Dahlkemper earned two assists, and then in 2012 improved to three goals and three assists in 2012 while playing in all 23 matches as a starter.
“I am extremely honored and excited to sign with the Blues,” said Dahlkemper. “I can't wait to play and practice with some of the best players in the country and I am looking forward to getting coached by Charlie and the rest of the training staff.”
“Abby has already proven herself as a premier center back in the NCAA and youth national teams and will be the heir apparent to replace Christie Shaner who retired after last season,” commented Naimo.
Adding to the midfield is, Sarah Killion, who will play her third season at UCLA this fall. As a freshman, Killion assisted two goals, and appeared in all 21 matches played by the Bruins. In 2012, she finished fourth on the team in points with three goals and six assists. Killion missed part of the Bruins’ 2012 campaign while on national team duty. She helped the USA to a championship at the 2012 U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Japan, defeating Germany 1-0 in the final.
“I am so happy and grateful about the opportunity to play with the Pali Blues this summer,” remarked Killion. “I am looking forward to getting to know a new group of girls and playing with some amazing talent. Of course I’m also excited to be coached by Charlie.”
The last of the group is Samantha Mewis, a midfielder from Hanson, Mass., who was also on the team that won the 2012 U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup. In addition to that championship, Mewis also helped the USA to second place in the 2008 U-17 FIFA World Cup in New Zealand, which she played alongside her sister Kristie.
At UCLA, Mewis finished the 2011 season second in scoring, behind US forward Sydney Leroux, with six goals, earned seven assists, and was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team. She also missed part of the season while at the U-20 World Cup, but managed to score three goals and assist three others for the Bruins.
“I am excited about signing with the Blues for this summer,” said the midfielder. “I think it will be a great opportunity to compete at a high level with girls from around the country. Not only will it be a great place to get better in the off season, but it should be challenging and a fun environment. [I am] honored to be a part of such a great team.”
Naimo shared his final thoughts on acquiring these players for the 2013 season.
“All of these players have been a part of a US U-20 national team, with Sam and Sarah winning gold last fall. It goes without saying that they will all play huge roles in helping Pali get back to another national final. I am really looking forward to coaching and learning from these girls. I was blown away by their professionalism when I met with them,” he said.