Aug. 10, 2000
Slaton, Chastain Named to U.S. Olympic Soccer Team
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Junior defender Danielle Slaton and assistant coach Brandi Chastain were among the current Broncos selected to the U.S. Olympic women's soccer team that will compete next month in Sydney, U.S. Women's National Team head coach April Heinrichs announced this afternoon.
Santa Clara will also be represented by 1999 alumna Nikki Serlenga, who, like Slaton, will be making her first appearance in a world championship event.
Slaton, one of the captains of this year's Broncos squad, is the only member of the Olympic Team with college eligibility remaining, and at 20 years of age, the youngest Olympic Team member. She's considered one of the nation's best attacking defenders and will spend time on the left side of the defense. A 1999 NSCAA First Team All-American, Slaton has led her team's defense to six postseason shutouts and two straight NCAA College Cup appearances.
"Getting invited into residency was exciting," Slaton said. "Once I got into residency, my goal was to travel on the first trip. Once I made that, my goal was to make this Olympic Team. My expectations have increased as I've progressed and played more with this team. I'm amazed and excited that I now have the opportunity to play with and learn from all these veterans."
Heinrichs said she saw phenomenal qualities to the newcomers, saying, "it's one thing to be very talented and it's another to know how to hone that talent over time and what we've seen is a growth in Danielle that every time she steps out on the field she's getting better."
Chastain, a 1996 Olympian, is entering her seventh season as assistant coach for the Broncos. As a starting defender, she helped bring home gold as the United States claimed top honors in the first Olympic women's soccer competition at the Atlanta Games. She was also a member of the U.S. National Teams that won the 1991 and 1999 Women's World Cups. Last summer, Chastain was featured on the covers of Sports Illustrated, Time and Newsweek after scoring the decisive penalty kick against China in the World Cup Championship match. A two-time All-American, she played a major role on Santa Clara's 1989 and 1990 national semifinal teams.
Serlenga finished her Bronco career with 15 goals and 27 assists and four straight Women's College Cup appearances. The midfielder has scored six goals for the National Team this season, including her first career hat trick when the U.S. Women defeated Costa Rica in June. U.S. Soccer considers Serlenga to be one to the best passers on the team, with her ability to strike a ball accurately over 50 yards a valuable dimension to the U.S. attack.
"When I saw (Santa Clara) play in the final four, I could not believe how special this player was," Heinrichs said of Serlenga. "She had an awareness and a presence that was years beyond her experience. I thought to myself, 'if we could bring her in, what could she do?' She has the most uncanny ability to step in the most pressurized situations and have great composure on the ball.
"Pound for pound," Heinrichs continued, "Nikki strikes the ball better than any female soccer player I've ever seen."
The U.S. Women are currently training in Annapolis, Md., for Sunday's opener of the Nike "Road to Glory" tour against Russia. The tour will continue with matches against Canada and Brazil. The squad begins Olympic pool-play in Melbourne, Australia, against Norway on Sept. 14, China on Sept. 17 and Nigeria on Sept. 20.
Slaton and Chastain will miss the first month of the collegiate season while competing in Sydney. The Broncos, preseason ranked third by the NSCAA, begin the 2000 season at Cal Poly on Aug. 25. Santa Clara opens its home schedule the following week, Fri., Sept. 1, hosting Oregon at 3 p.m.
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