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Sophie Reiser, former Columbia soccer standout, was drafted into the Women’s Professional Soccer League.

In her four years on the Columbia women's soccer team, Sophie Reiser created a legacy that few student-athletes can match. After starting 13 of Columbia's 18 games as a freshman, she started in all of the Lions' matches in her final three seasons. She has been an all-Ivy first team selection since her sophomore year and received Ivy League Player of the Year honors in 2008. But even with all of those accomplishments under her belt, Reiser still has to prove herself on the field. Reiser will be fighting for a roster spot on the Chicago Red Stars, the team that selected her with the 42nd overall pick of the 2010 Women's Professional Soccer Draft. Reiser was the fourth selection of the fifth round. The draft, held on Jan. 15 in Philadelphia, consisted of seven rounds and a total of 65 selections by the nine teams in Women's Professional Soccer, a United States league only in its second season of existence. As a late pick, Reiser waited almost four hours for her name to be called. Chicago selected defender Whitney Engen in the first round with the fourth overall pick and forward Jessica McDonald in the second round with the 15th overall pick. Engen and McDonald both had played for the University of North Carolina, the 2009 national champion. After the first two rounds, the Red Stars picked one player from the University of Portland and one from the University of Notre Dame before selecting Reiser. While Reiser headed into the draft thinking that she would be picked in the fourth or fifth round, she experienced some doubt that she would be selected at all as the draft progressed. "It took a really long time," Reiser said. "You get to a point where you're like, 'Well, are they going to call my name?'" Now that she has been selected, Reiser couldn't be happier. While the Boston Breakers also expressed a strong interest in her, Reiser felt most comfortable with the coaching staff and style of play of the Red Stars. She was particularly impressed with the candor of head coach and director of soccer operations Emma Hayes. "Even when I first met her, she was really straightforward about the program and the challenges of it," Reiser said. "She just seemed like a really great, honest, hardworking coach." Reiser's experience at the Chicago tryout in December only affirmed her interest in the team. "The training was so hard, and it was so intense, but it was exactly what I've been wanting," she said. After training in her native Seattle, Reiser will report to Chicago for workouts in late February. "I've really got this whole next month to just train and prepare," she said. "I think it's going to be a good opportunity for me to come in the best way possible to make an impact on the team." If Reiser sufficiently impresses the coaches, she will then go to Florida with a group of selected players for preseason training. It is in Florida that the coaches will finalize their contract and roster decisions. While Reiser saw time as a midfielder and forward at Columbia, she is unsure of what her position would be in Chicago. "I will honestly play wherever they want," Reiser said. "I could likely see myself as an outside mid for them, because I'm small, I can run, and I think that would be a pretty good fit." It was as a forward that she tied for first in the league with 12 goals, was second in the league with 11 assists, and was named the Ivy Player of the Year. While she reached the pinnacle of individual achievement as a junior, Reiser was a successful player even as a freshman. She ended her first season at Columbia with three goals, four assists, and 10 points. Reiser was second on the team in points and assists that year, finishing in both categories behind senior forward Shannon Munoz, the 2006 Ivy Player of the Year. "I came into college pretty naïve—wanted to play soccer, wanted to go to a good school, wanted a combination of the two, and definitely got that out of it," Reiser said. "After that first year, I just got really into it [soccer], and really into training hard and improving as a player." Her work paid off as a sophomore—Reiser recorded four goals, nine assists, and 17 points en route to all-Ivy first team honors in 2007. While Reiser's numbers declined from her junior to senior seasons—she tallied seven goals, four assists, and 18 points in 2009—her ability and effort on the pitch never faded. "Sophie always has been a player of strong character," Columbia head coach Kevin McCarthy said. "Her work ethic is second to none, and she trains and plays at the highest possible standard she can push herself to. ... I'm very confident that she can play at the next level." After dominating the Ivy League, Reiser is ready to begin a new chapter in her playing career. "It's a fresh start for me," she said. "I'm really excited to play with some new girls, learn from some new coaches, and just be a part of an exciting program."

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