(Feb. 13, 2015) – Following an illustrious career that spanned 24 years and saw her earn an international record 352 caps with the U.S Women’s National Team, former Boston Breakers midfielder Kristine Lilly will be one of three individuals inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame Saturday in San Francisco.
(Feb. 13, 2015) – Following an illustrious career that spanned 24 years and saw her earn an international record 352 caps with the U.S Women’s National Team, former Boston Breakers midfielder Kristine Lilly will be one of three individuals inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame Saturday in San Francisco. Lilly enters the Hall of Fame alongside former U.S. Men's National Team coach Bob Bradley and former USMNT player Brian McBride.
“It is an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Lilly said. “It is great to be part of an elite group as the Hall of Fame. Some of the players I have gotten to play with, others I have watched, and there are coaches that I have admired. It is pretty amazing.”
Lilly’s career with the U.S. began in 1987, and up until her retirement from international soccer in 2010, she won two FIFA Women’s World Cups and two Olympic gold medals.
“It is an honor to put that USA jersey on,” Lilly said. “The fact that you are one of a few to be able to do that is awesome. Plus, to represent your country and have people chanting ‘USA’ at games is such a great feeling.
“It is so great to be the best at something,” Lilly said, referring to her World Cup and Olympic gold medal winning teams. “We as a team always wanted to be the best every time we stepped on the field, so to be able to have won two World Cups and two gold medals is great. I love competing at the highest level and being the best.”
Lilly played in her first U.S. Women’s National Team match in August of 1987, and she remembers it fondly.
“My first game with the National Team was memorable for me,” she said. “I remember watching the first half and thinking, ‘What am I doing here?’ Then going in the game for the second half and scoring a goal made me feel pretty good.”
A native of Wilton, Conn., Lilly was voted U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year twice (1993 and 2005). She scored her final and 130th international goal on May 22, 2010, in a game against Germany. Her final match with the U.S. came on Nov. 5, 2010, against Mexico.
Lilly began her career as a Boston Breaker in 2001, when she was selected by the Breakers in the WUSA inaugural draft.
In 2001, her first season in WUSA, Lilly played every minute of all 21 games, scored three goals, and had a league-best 11 assists. The following season, she started all 19 matches and notched career highs in goals scored (8) and assists (13).
Kristine Lilly captained the Breakers in both 2009 and 2010 in Women's Professional Soccer
In her final WUSA season with the Breakers, Lilly started all 19 games, finished with three goals and four assists, led the Breakers to their first-ever playoff game, and was named First-Team All-WUSA for the third consecutive year.
Lilly was allocated to the Boston Breakers for the inaugural WPS season in 2009. She served as team captain for the Breakers in both 2009 and 2010. In two seasons with the WPS Breakers, Lilly played in 43 games (42 starts, 3,725 minutes) and scored six goals to go along with six assists.
Kristine Lilly and the U.S. celebrate winning the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup
“I’m not sure there is one key to my success over the years,” Lilly said. “I had a great work ethic, I was fit, and I surrounded myself with people that wanted to help me succeed.”
Lilly has seen the women’s game grow over the years, having been part of two professional leagues, as well as one season playing at the top level in Sweden for Tyreso. She believes the game continues to grow and can grow even further.
“I mean we still want more and more. I want more and more people to see the game and support,” she said. “I believe it is a great game to watch, and to see these players do it at the highest level is awesome. I love that young girls have doors open for them, but we still have to continue to keep these doors open.”
Looking back at her renowned playing career and seeing where soccer is today, Lilly said it was her teammates that also helped pave the way.
“The people I was fortunate enough to play with were amazing soccer players, but even better people,” she said. “The things that Michelle Akers did for our country by setting the tone and wanting to be the best was amazing; Mia Hamm continuing the legacy and being the face of soccer for so long while being one of the best players in the world; Julie Foudy's passion and desire to be the best and open doors for those less fortunate now. I mean these were great players, but even better people, and that is just to name a few.”