August 12, 2003

Women's Soccer Players Get OK to Feel Like a Pro

Aug. 12, 2003

By Frank Giase
New Jersey Star-Ledger Staff

Jessica Ballweg and Carli Lloyd thought they had the bug, but now they're sure.

The Women's United Soccer Association and the NCAA worked out an agreement this summer to allow college players to train with professional teams, and after working out with the Philadelphia Charge, it didn't take long for the New Jersey natives to realize how much they want to play at the next level.

"I always thought I wanted to play professionally, but I never really experienced it," said Ballweg, a Metuchen resident who was The Star-Ledger girls soccer Player of the Year at Union Catholic in 2000. "Just being there motivated me into really wanting to do it."

Lloyd, out of Delran, agreed.

"I got a feel for the professional life," Lloyd said. "It's something I definitely want to do."

Ballweg, whose first two years at Santa Clara included an NCAA championship in 2001 and runner-up honors last season, trained only a few days with the Charge last month due to scheduling conflicts, but it was enough to open her eyes.

"I play on a really competitive college team, so the level is really high, but I could see a difference in the pro level," she said.

Ballweg, a 20-year-old defender, also was a member of the United States Under-19 team that won the U-19 world championship last year in Canada.

Lloyd, a two-time Star-Ledger All-State selection, is a junior at Rutgers. The 21-year-old midfielder trained with the Charge four days a week for six weeks.

"I've been at three different levels, and there's not a huge difference, but there is a difference in all of them," said Lloyd, who helped the United States Under-21 team win the Nordic Cup in Denmark last month. "It's a lot faster in the pros."