August 11, 2010

Sharing Success: Angeli and Osborne Star in WPS

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Former Santa Clara University All-Americans and close friends, Jordan Angeli and Leslie Osborne, have reunited in the Women's Professional Soccer League (WPS) to help the Boston Breakers emerge as contenders for the 2010 WPS Championship.

Teammates on Santa Clara's Final Four team in 2004, the midfielders are playing together once again, this time at the professional level. They have helped Boston win six of their last eight games and position for a run in September's WPS playoffs.

"What an amazing opportunity this has been for us," said Osborne, who not only played with Angeli in 2004, but also mentored her on two different occasions as a volunteer assistant coach at Santa Clara in 2005 and 2009. "We have been through so much together and would do anything for each other on and off the field."

It was off the field in 2008 when their relationship really grew. Both suffered devastating ACL injuries that spring, costing Osborne a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent the U.S. at the Beijing Olympics. Angeli was being forced to sit out a second-consecutive season at Santa Clara.

"I remember making those drives together, four hours a day, commuting from Santa Clara to San Francisco. We talked, we cried, we leaned on each other," said Angeli, reflecting on their physical therapy sessions in San Francisco.

"There are few people in your life you can open up to and be vulnerable with," said Osborne about those drives. "We were able to really connect, tell each other what was on our minds. That helped us get through that tough rehab time, mentally and physically, pushing each other to comeback."

Both players did bounce back. Osborne signed on with the Bay Area's F.C. Gold Pride for their inagural season in 2009 while also assisting the SCU coaching staff. She watched from the sidelines as Angeli co-captained the Broncos into the third round of the 2009 NCAA College Cup Tournament.

Osborne inked a free agent contract with Boston prior to the 2010 WPS season - the same team who would select Angeli as the 16th overall pick in the 2010 draft.

The pair helped spark a midseason turnaround for the Breakers. After a slow start, Angeli was inserted into the starting lineup and has emerged as a first-year star. She scored four goals in July and became the league's first true rookie to earn WPS 'Player of the Month' honors. She currently leads all WPS newcomers in goals and is a strong candidate to be named the WPS 'Rookie of the Year.'

"I'm thankful for every day," said Angeli about her first year in professional soccer. "The novelty has not worn off, putting on that jersey, living out my dream. I feel very blessed."

"We recognized her leadership qualities right away, early on at Santa Clara," said Osborne. "So I am not surprised to see her having the success she is having at this level – not at all. What I'm really happy for is to be part of it together, for us and our families."

Known for her tireless work ethic and character, Osborne has consistently been a role model for Angeli. A seven-year veteran of the U.S. National Team, Osborne says she would love to continue coaching and mentoring young players, citing Santa Clara as a program she would like to remain connected to.