COLLEGE WOMEN: North Carolina's Heather O'Reilly leads Soccer America's Freshman All-America team

U.S. national team forward Heather O'Reilly is Soccer America's choice as the nation's top college women's freshman.

The University of North Carolina star, who scored eight of her 16 goals during the Tar Heels' march through the NCAA tournament toward its 18th national championship, heads Soccer America's 2003 College Women's All-America team.

The 11-player team features six players from the Atlantic Coast Conference, including O'Reilly's Carolina teammate Jessica Maxwell. Other ACC selections are Clemson forward Courtney Foster, Florida State defender Kelly Rowland and midfielder India Trotter, and Virginia defender Becky Sauerbrunn.

Also honored are Florida defender Melanie Booth, Notre Dame midfielder Jen Buczkowski, Connecticut defender-midfielder-forward Nikki Cross, Portland defender Stephanie Lopez and Mississippi State goalkeeper Luisa Marzotto.

Booth is a Canadian national-teamer, and Marzotto was Australia's goalkeeper at the 2002 FIFA Under-19 World Championship, an event in which O'Reilly and Booth also competed.

Buczkowski, Lopez and Sauerbrunn are star defenders for the current U.S. U-19 team. O'Reilly, Maxwell, Rowland and Trotter also are in the U-19 pool.

O'Reilly, a speedy forward with good technique and a strong finishing sense, was selected the College Cup's Offensive MVP after scoring a superb goal in North Carolina's semifinal triumph over UCLA and two more goals in its title-game romp over Connecticut.

She started slowly last fall following a broken leg and ankle-ligament surgery that sidelined her last summer and kept her off the Americans' Women's World Cup roster.

Soccer America also selected O'Reilly as one of its 11 College Women's MVPs for last fall, the only freshman honored. SA named her nation's No. 1 recruit last spring,

The selections were drawn from a deep and outstanding freshman class that was particularly strong defensively. Six backline players and two primarily holding midfielders are among the 11 All-Americans.

O'Reilly, currently in China with the U.S. women for the annual Four Nations tournament. A national-team regular while still in high school, she is the seventh North Carolina player selected Soccer America's Freshman of the Year since 1988. Preceding her were Kristine Lilly (1989), Tisha Venturini (1991), Staci Wilson (1994), Cindy Parlow (1995), Laurie Schwoy (1996) and Lindsay Tarpley (2002).

Here are Soccer America's 2003 College Women's Freshman All-Americans:

Defender from Burlington, Ontario
Canadian national-teamer was a dynamic left back, assisting 11 goals as the 19-4-3 Gators reached the NCAA quarterfinals.

Midfielder from Elk Grove, Ill.
U.S. U-19 central defender was outstanding holding midfielder for 20-3-1 Fighting Irish, moved into attacking role on occasion, and contributed four goals -- two in NCAA tournament win over Loyola-Chicago -- and six assists for 20-3-1 Irish,

Defender/midfielder/forward from Pembroke, Mass.
Versatile defender moved into midfield and up front for the NCAA tournament, scoring all her points -- three goals and two assists -- in the 15-6-3 Huskies' stunning run to the title game.

Forward from Conyers, Ga.
Netted 13 goals with five assists -- finding the net against five of seven ACC opponents -- to lead 11-7-2 Tigers into NCAA tournament.

Defender from Elk Grove, Calif.
Wonderful central defender stepped into the spot vacated by All-American Lauren Orlandos and was virtually flawless as the Pilots surrendered just 14 goals while posting 18-3-2 mark.

Goalkeeper from Canberra, Australia
Aussie keeper made incredible saves for the Bulldogs, shutting out nine foes -- including NCAA qualifiers Florida, Georgia and Missouri -- and earning first-team All-SEC honors.

Defender from Colleyville, Texas
Stepped in as the backbone of 27-0-0 Tar Heels' defense, which struggled when she was sidelined by injury. Her return vs. Santa Clara cemented another final four trip.

Forward from East Brunswick, N.J.
All-American was a notch above once she was healthy, scoring 16 goals as part of the Tar Heels' deadly attack, three of them at the College Cup.

Defender from Wallingford, Pa.
Unheralded center back was critical to 17-8-1 Seminoles' semifinal run. She scored six goals, all with her head off set pieces -- five of them in the six games leading to the College Cup -- and assisted another four, all with long throw-ins.

Defender from St. Louis, Mo.
First-team All-American was centerpiece of 12-5-4 Cavaliers' backline, a natural leader who dominated opposing attackers.

Midfielder from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Matured into superb defensive midfielder, contributed two goals and six assists and was the Seminoles' lone College Cup all-star.

1988 -- Heather Taggart (Wisconsin)
1989 -- Kristine Lilly (North Carolina)
1990 -- Tiffeny Milbrett (Portland)
1991 -- Tisha Venturini (North Carolina)
1992 -- Thori Staples (North Carolina State)
1993 -- Cindy Daws (Notre Dame)
1994 -- Staci Wilson (North Carolina)
1995 -- Cindy Parlow (North Carolina)
1996 -- Laurie Schwoy (North Carolina)
1997 -- Anne Makinen (Notre Dame)
1998 -- Mary-Frances Monroe (Connecticut)
1999 -- Christie Welsh (Penn State)
2000 -- Lindsay Browne (Clemson)
2001 -- Christine Sinclair (Portland)
2002 -- Lindsay Tarpley (North Carolina)
2003 -- Heather O'Reilly (North Carolina)

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