Author Topic: Angela Hucles  (Read 2003 times)

Offline redrobin

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Angela Hucles
« on: October 11, 2008, 09:26:51 PM »
Surprise hero at the Olympics, Hucles now looking forward to WPS
11th September 2008
by Michael Lewis

No one has to remind U.S. Women’s National Team forward Angela Hucles how important a women's professional soccer league is in the United States.

Hucles is excited for the WPS to begin and now she awaits allocation.If it wasn't for the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), she might not have gotten an opportunity to play for National Team Head Coach Pia Sundhage and make a major impact on the gold-medal winning U.S. team at the recent Beijing Olympics.

Now, she is looking forward to a new life in Women's Professional Soccer, which will kick off in April 2009.

"It's great," she said. "It's wonderful that we made it (so far) in the Olympics because it’s going to help heighten the awareness of the new league, for soccer and for women."

After trading Angela Hucles from the Boston Breakers in 2003, Sundhage admitted she didn't have the heart to cut the forward from the National Team.

Hucles was dealt to the San Diego Spirit for national teammate Aly Wagner in the very last trade in WUSA history as the league became history a few weeks later. She did not take the deal personally.

"It's business," Hucles said.

At the Games, she emerged as one of the more unlikely heroes of an American team that desperately needed a star, a personality and a scoring threat, especially after striker Abby Wambach, who filled those three roles, broke her left leg in July.

Entering the Olympics, Hucles had scored only eight times in 88 appearances. However, she found the back of the net a team-high four times in six matches and finished second to Brazil's Cristiane (five goals) among the tournament’s leading goal-scorers.

"Angela Hucles has been important (since) Abby Wambach broke her leg," Sundhage said. "She is the one player who has helped the team a lot."

Hucles admitted she wasn’t sure if she was going to play in the Olympics, let alone take on a starring role. "I didn't even know what my role was going to be until I arrived in China," she said.  Now she is certain to be penned into the National Team’s lineup when the U.S. kicks off the 10-game Achieve Your Gold Tour Saturday evening against Ireland in Philadelphia.

Sundhage called Hucles "average" when she played with Boston. Her three-year totals with the Breakers didn't exactly set many records. As a midfielder, Hucles scored six goals and assisted on eight others while starting 53 games and playing 57 matches over 4,511 minutes.

"She had all the tools," Sundhage said, laughing that she had traded the 30-year-old midfielder-forward. "She was just hanging around the midfield. She was so predictable."

When she held her first National Team practice after replacing Greg Ryan as coach last December, Sundhage felt Hucles still needed a lot of work.

"She still was a little bit uncertain," she said. "I said, 'You have a chance to improve if you change things. You have a choice.'"

Instead of moping that she was "stuck" with Sundhage again ("I was very excited"), Hucles listened to her coach.

"She's a professional," Hucles said. "I knew she would treat me fairly."

Sundhage did, switching Hucles from midfielder to striker.

"Something happened," Sundhage said. "She decided to get fit and change her speed."

The whole world watched Hucles in her amazing transformation.

After being held scoreless in the first two Olympic games, Hucles connected in the 4-1 victory over New Zealand in the final Group G match and in the 2-1 quarterfinal win over Canada.

She continued her torrid pace with two more goals in the 4-2 semifinal win over Japan in Beijing on Aug. 18.

So how did Hucles go from being a reserve to an impact player and big-time goal-scorer at the Summer Games? Well, she had a coach who believed in her and she found her confidence.

For example, on her second goal against Japan, the 5’7”, Hucles chipped the ball over goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto from a severe angle on the right side in the 81st minute.

"It was something that I had not done before," she said of taking such an audacious attempt. "But having that mentality and expectation put me in the right frame [of mind].

"Confidence is comfort. It's taking opportunities before where you might have passed it off to someone else. It is something all of us should be better at."

Once a reserve on the National Team, Hucles certainly put both her feet forward at the right time with WPS allocation around the corner.

After her superb Olympic performance, don't be surprised if Hucles is one of the most coveted players by WPS teams.

Angela was snapped up by the Boston Breakers in the WNT draft.

Offline redrobin

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Re: Angela Hucles
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2008, 07:24:58 PM »
Extract from WPS report on the Boston Breakers assigned players from the USA WNT last month.

Angela was assigned together with Kristine Lilly and Heather Mitts.

“I have not played for Tony,” said Hucles, who like Lilly was a regular starter during the Breakers’ three-year tenure in the WUSA.  “I played for him one time in camp when I got called up in 1997.  That was my only experience having Tony as a coach.  It was great then and obviously I look forward to playing for him.”

Hucles was less sure about Boston than Mitts when she was drafted by the Breakers at the dawn of the WUSA.  But in her three years playing there she fell in love with the city and has made it her home since that league folded five years ago.

“Boston has been my home for the last six, seven years now,” she said. “I’m very thrilled.  It’s just a great day right now.  It’s nice to see that this is coming together.”

Their affinity for Boston aside, the three newest Breakers are some of the best soccer players around.

The Boston coach, Tony DiCicco said “Angela Hucles I think is playing the best soccer of her life.  She has a great following in greater Boston.  She has great versatility on the field.  She can get forward and score goals.  She can also play in the midfield and set them up.

All three are just quality people too.”

Offline redrobin

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Re: Angela Hucles
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2008, 07:35:41 PM »
Full Circle: Angela Hucles returns to Breakers at home and on top of the world
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
by Colleen Garlick, Boston Breakers

The U.S. Women’s National Team has produced many “Golden Girls” in the past. Kristine Lilly, Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain and countless others have all made their marks on the U.S. and world soccer scenes. Now, a new generation of skilled Americans are making a name for themselves on the world stage, and Angela Hucles is one of them.

Hucles, along with fellow original Boston Breaker Lilly and Heather Mitts, was one of three U.S. National Team players to be allocated to Boston on Sept. 16. Hucles had a blossoming career ahead of her prior to her initial stint in Boston right out of college, and she has fulfilled a lot of that promising talent in the years since.

At age six, the Virginia Beach-native joined her first soccer squad due to her distaste for her neighborhood swim team. Sleeping in and early morning cartoons were more important to Hucles than diving into a cold pool at 7:00 in the morning.

“My mom asked me what sport I wanted to be involved in, and I had to do something so I chose swimming,” recalls Hucles. “I loved being in the water and I thought that would be a fun thing to do. Then the meets we would have I would only get to participate in 30 seconds and I had to be there all day. So for me it really wasn’t that gratifying and satisfying to do swimming.”

Hucles moved onto soccer after her attempt at swimming. She attended Norfolk (Va.) Academy, where she was the all-time leading scorer with 204 goals and 106 assists. Hucles was also selected for the Parade and NSCAA All-American teams in 1995, and was a two time All-State and All-Regional selection in 1994 and 1995.

After her successful time at Norfolk Academy, Hucles went on to attend the University of Virginia where she played for former U.S. National Team coach April Heinrichs.  Hucles verbally committed to UVA while Heinrichs was in the process of being hired.

“I had a great experience with her [April Heinrichs] for those four years at UVA,” said Hucles. “During my four years we were ranked as high as second in the country and went to the NCAA tournament every year.”

During her time at Virginia, Hucles was a four-time First-Team All-ACC selection and was a finalist for the Hermann Trophy (considered the top individual honor in collegiate soccer) in 1999. She still holds Cavalier records as the school's all-time leader in goals (59), points (138) and game-winning goals (19).

Hucles' international experience began with the U-20 national team in 1997. She received her first cap with the U.S. Women’s National Team against Finland in 2002, and scored her first international goal against Costa Rica on November 6 that year. She was a member of the 2004 Olympic team who won the gold medal, as well as the 2007 World Cup squad.

Hucles' greatest international accomplishments, however, were made this past summer at the Beijing Olympics. Starting every match and leading the team in goals, Hucles proved to be a dominant force throughout the tournament. After a tough loss to Norway in the first round, the world marveled at the American women as they would go on to beat the talented Brazilian team, 1-0, in an action-packed gold medal match.

Going into extra time proved to be a battle of will for both the Americans and Brazil. “We were going to do whatever it took to make our team successful, whether it was stopping goals, or scoring goals, running the extra length of the field just to support your teammate," noted Hucles. "I think that’s what we were reminding ourselves in that moment when we knew we only had two halves of 15 minutes more to play in the Olympic final.”

Despite all her world travel and training, Hucles still finds time to give back to the community. She is a spokeswoman for the America SCORES New England program, which strives to empower students in urban communities using soccer, writing, creative expression, and service-learning, while inspiring youth to lead healthy lifestyles, be engaged students, and become agents of change in their communities.

Hucles also volunteers for CityKicks. CityKicks is a Boston organization that provides opportunities for school age girls to participate in an after-school soccer program.

“With both of these organizations I feel that soccer has given me so many different opportunities in my life and I have met so many amazing people through it that I want to be able to share some of the enjoyment I have had with soccer with other kids and the community,” said Hucles.

Whenever Hucles gets a break after months of playing and being on the road, she comes back to Boston to unwind.

“I like to hang out with my friends or get back to shows that I have on TIVO. I watch HGTV religiously, all the programs on there.”

Hucles never really left Boston after the end of the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) in 2003. Perhaps it is because she has such fond memories of the city. And perhaps it is because she enjoyed a successful run of form on the pitch for the Breakers from 2001-03, which helped her jump into the national team picture.

In 2001, Hucles was chosen in the 12th round (93rd pick overall) by Boston in the WUSA inaugural draft. Hucles played in all 21 games (starting 19) in the Breakers' first year and posted two goals for the season.  She even scored the first goal in team history during a preseason match against Duke University.

Hucles had her most successful season with the Breakers in 2003. She started all 17 games, and had one goal and four assists to help the Breakers achieve their first appearance in the WUSA playoffs. Hucles garnered All-WUSA second-team accolades as a result of her play that season.

Backed by her success as a former Breaker and as a current national team star, Hucles is looking forward to the debut of the new Boston Breakers in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) in April, 2009.

“Boston is my home now, I had a great experience with the Breakers all three years, the league was phenomenal, and I was very fortunate to be a part of it,” explains Hucles. “Knowing that and being able to be a part of this new league is what makes me excited. Being able to be a part of the Breakers again is an honor as well because I knew what it was to be a Boston Breaker, and I expect nothing less from the organization.”

In the spring of 2009, seeing Hucles in a Breakers uniform will be a welcomed sight for Boston fans as she takes to the field at Harvard Stadium to continue her successful history of soccer greatness.

Offline redrobin

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Re: Angela Hucles
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2008, 04:14:32 PM »
Role-playing to perfection
Hucles always comes through no matter what is asked of her

Friday, Oct 31, 2008
by Vic Dorr Jr., Richmond Times-Dispatch

Angela Hucles stepped up when the U.S. needed her in the Olympics. When opportunity knocked on the eve of the Beijing Olympics, Angela Hucles did more than merely answer the door.

She flung open the door, grabbed the visitor by the collar and pulled him -- or was it her? -- inside.

Hucles, a Virginia Beach native and former soccer standout at the University of Virginia, received a battlefield promotion -- from backup midfielder to starting forward -- when Abby Wambach, one of the world's most dangerous attackers, suffered a broken leg in the Americans' final tuneup before the Olympics. Hucles responded brilliantly. The woman who scored five goals in her first 70 matches with the U.S. National Team scored four in six matches in Beijing.

"If you're willing to let it, this game can teach you so much -- about yourself and about life," Hucles said.

Where Beijing is concerned, she said, the lesson was basic: "Sooner or later, hard work and effort are going to be rewarded. I truly believe that. A lot of people, I think, watched the Olympics and saw only the good things, the positive things, that happened at the end. They didn't see everything that came before."

She was speaking of her team, which overcame not only Wambach's injury but also a humbling opening-match defeat to win its second consecutive Olympic gold medal. But she could easily been speaking of herself.

Hucles, who rode a three-year scoreless streak into 2008, said her turnabout was built upon the twin foundations of circumstance and defiant confidence.

Circumstance: Hucles, 30, said the coaching change that followed the Americans' flameout in the 2007 World Cup -- Pia Sundhage replaced Greg Ryan -- created opportunities where few had existed before.

"Pia gave everyone a fresh start," Hucles said. "She likes a style [of play] that I think suits me well, which obviously helps a lot. But the big thing is, I feel like she gives everybody the opportunity to be an impact player. If that's the role you want, [Sundhage] is willing to let it happen."

Confidence: Hucles, still the most prolific scorer in U.Va. history, said her objective in Beijing was "to be the best player I could possibly be. I didn't want to try to be Abby or fill Abby's shoes. Let's face it, that would have been impossible. I just wanted to relax and play and let the qualities that got me named to the National Team for seven years in a row come through."

Mission accomplished. Hucles scored the Americans' first goal in a 2-1 overtime conquest of Canada and delivered a pair in a 4-2 semifinal victory over Japan. She also scored in a pool-play triumph over New Zealand. Sundhage called her "a fantastic story" and "one of the most important players on this team." Said teammate Carli Lloyd: "She was tremendous. We couldn't have done it without her."

Dizzying ascent notwithstanding, Hucles remains a solidly grounded woman. She does not regard herself as a star. But then, she did not regard herself as a scrub when it was her duty to stand and watch from the sideline. She says she is what she has always been: just one of the girls. And who can argue? When she scored her second goal in the Olympic semifinals, she ran directly to the bench area to celebrate with the U.S. team's reserves.

Said Hucles: "Whatever my role has been, I've tried to embrace it. If you're not happy and you're not willing to accept your role, it can be very hard. The thing I've always believed is: It's not about the individual. It's all about the team. If you don't feel that way -- if everyone doesn't feel that way -- then the whole team is going to struggle."

Offline redrobin

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Re: Angela Hucles
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2008, 01:09:48 AM »
Hucles stars in homecoming

Virginia Beach product scores goal as Americans again defeat South Korea
Sunday, Nov 02, 2008
Extract from report by Vic Dorr Jr., Richmond Times-Dispatch

Angela Hucles and her teammates on the United States' women's national soccer team gave the almost-home-folks everything they wanted. 

Hucles, a former University of Virginia standout, scored one goal and helped create another last night as the Americans remained unbeaten on their post-Olympic victory tour with a 3-1 conquest of South Korea at University of Richmond Stadium. The match drew an announced crowd of 3,387.

"What a great feeling," said Hucles, who was playing only two hours from her home town, Virginia Beach. "I couldn't have scripted it any better. I had so many people here: my parents, my brother, my uncle, some cousins. It was nice to come out and put on a little show for them."

Hucles, whose four goals in Beijing led all U.S. scorers, apparently hasn't lost her touch. She accepted a nice entry pass from Heather O'Reilly and punched a 12-yarder past South Korean goalkeeper Kim Jung Mi in the 26th minute. Twelve minutes later, her deft through ball to Natasha Kai ignited the sequence that produced the Americans' second goal. Kai fed O'Reilly, who scored from the doorstep after arriving at a full sprint from the right side.

O'Reilly said Hucles, who has made most of her 98 national team appearances as a reserve, was an invaluable member of the U.S. roster long before she became an emergency starter on the eve of the Beijing Games.

Said O'Reilly: "The core of this team knows that Angela is, and always has been, a great teammate. No matter what her role, no matter what her responsibility, she's supportive and enthusiastic. She's always ready to roll up her sleeves and do whatever she's asked to do."

O'Reilly said Hucles' spectacular success in Beijing, and her flair for the dramatic in last night's match, were richly deserved. "Couldn't have happened to a better person," she said.

Offline redrobin

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Re: Angela Hucles
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2009, 05:15:33 PM »
Hucles retires at the top of her game
by Dan Lauletta,
26th October 2009

In a sudden announcement of a well thought out decision, Angela Hucles stunned her teammates and fans last week by announcing her retirement from soccer.  The retirement was effective immediately, so the U.S. National Team left for Germany without Hucles, who had been named to the squad for Thursday’s friendly in Augsburg, Germany.

“I think the best comment came from Pia (Sundhage, U.S. National Team head coach),” Hucles said, recalling the surprise reaction from most people she told.  “When I told her and she at first said, ‘oh no,’ but then halfway through the conversation she said, ‘this is really cool.’  Most of the time when she’s talking to players it’s because of an injury or a performance that she wasn’t pleased with.  For me to be able to share with her that I reached all my goals and my dreams and I’m just moving on, she thought that was really cool.”

And there, in a nutshell, is why Angela Hucles, at age 31 and playing at the top levels of women’s soccer, decided to end her playing career.

“It’s obviously hard as a professional athlete to know when it’s time to stop.  For me, I felt that I’ve accomplished everything I’ve wanted to in the sport of soccer as a player,” she said in a recent interview.  “Coming off the last Olympics as well as being able to help start a brand new league in this country for women, those were the last kind of final pieces that I was looking for.”

Hucles’s retirement blindsided most of the soccer community, especially since she participated in a National Team camp in September and was considered a lynchpin in the midfield heading towards the 2011 World Cup and 2012 Olympics.  But the decision was not sudden at all.  Blessed with the innate acceptance that athletic careers are not forever, Hucles began plotting her exit several years ago.  The only question was when exactly she would call it a career.

“It’s something that I’ve definitely been thinking about over the years.  The way my passions and desire for the game are right now, I felt this was the best time for me to step aside. It was not waking up one morning and deciding.”

Hucles spent the decade of the 2000s as a quiet rock on the National Team and played all four seasons for the Boston Breakers—three in the WUSA and 2009 in the inaugural WPS season.  Her career arc has been the product of talent and hard work with a little bit of luck sprinkled in.  She was a star at Virginia where she scored 17 goals as a freshman was graduated as the school’s all-time leading scorer.  Her May 2000 graduation coincided with the launch of WUSA the following spring.  In December 2000 the Breakers made Hucles their 12th—yes 12th—round selection.  There were 92 players taken ahead of Hucles.

“That was just such a tremendous opportunity for someone like myself,” Hucles said of the WUSA, which she used as a springboard onto the National Team.  “It helped elevate my career and get an invitation in with the U.S. team.  I know Shannon Boxx credits the WUSA with helping her career on the National Team and Abby Wambach as well.”

Hucles made her National Team debut in April 2002 and has been a fixture ever since.  She won gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and only injuries kept her from seeing action at World Cups in 2003 and 2007.

“I think that’s what WPS will do as well,” she said.  “It will offer games for players in this country to be seen by the National Team.  The coach will be able to see different players playing against international stars and see how they handle situations on the field.”

Currently in Germany with the team is Ella Masar, a player with extensive U-23 experience but no caps with the full team.  Brittany Klein and Meghan Schnur participated in last month’s camp but were not chosen for the Germany match.  They all got as far as they have through WPS, and they all have a long way to match Hucles, whose finest hours came last summer in China where she tallied a team-best four goals.

“This last Olympics was very special to me both as an individual and as part of the team,” she said.  Among Hucles’ goals during the tournament was the only regulation strike in the quarterfinals against Canada, a match the U.S. eventually won in extra time.  Three days later against Japan, the U.S. was trailing near halftime when Hucles scored the equalizer.  She later added the backbreaker in what was a 4-2 semifinal victory.

Less than a month after capturing her second gold medal, Hucles became part of WPS.  Instead of waiting while 92 other players were drafted as she had done eight years earlier, this time around Hucles was center stage as one of 21 players from the National Team pool allocated to the clubs during a gala event in New York City.

“I definitely wanted to be a part of the league and help get it started,” Hucles said.  “I definitely foresee many more years for WPS and I look forward to rooting them on and maybe helping out in a different capacity.”

In the days after her retirement, Hucles immediately made good on her word to root the league on when she bought 2010 Breakers season tickets.  She said she will “still be looking for wins, just in a different way,” in 2010.  Asked if she would have hung on to her career another year had WPS been forced to delay its launch, she said the question was impossible to answer.

Season tickets aside, Hucles will spend the next days and weeks figuring out what else to do with her life.  She put 24 years of her life into soccer, and spent the last several mulling over the appropriate time to walk away, but she is adamant about not knowing what lies ahead.

“I would love to get into something completely different that is not soccer related.  At the same time, I do see myself involved in some capacity.  But I think in terms of what I’m looking to do kind of long term, it probably won’t have anything to do with soccer.

“This wasn’t a decision to leave soccer for something else.  I’m leaving soccer because I’ve given it all I have.”