Meet the Breakers: Heather O'Reilly, Sydney Leroux, and Heather Mitts

U.S. trio adds golden touch to Breakers

To many, these three players need little to no introduction. They’ve been in the international spotlight for the greater part of the last decade. Most recently, they took silver at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, then followed that up by winning gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Between the three, they’ve won three Olympic gold medals and one FIFA U-20 World Cup championship.

Midfielder Heather O’Reilly, defender Heather Mitts, and forward Sydney Leroux come to Boston fresh off the Fan Tribute Tour with the U.S. Women’s National Team, a 10-game post-Olympics run in which the U.S. went 10-0. During the Tour, Leroux scored six goals, setting a U.S. record for goals scored by a substitute in a single year (14). O’Reilly finished the 10-game stretch with five assists, including three in a 4-0 win over China on Dec. 12. She assisted on one of Leroux’s two goals in a 5-0 win Nov. 28 against Ireland.

The threesome played an integral part in earning the U.S. Women’s National Team’s fourth career gold medal. At the 2012 Summer Games in London, the U.S. beat Japan, 2-1, in front of 80,203 fans at Wembley Stadium in the gold medal match. O’Reilly was one of the main reasons the U.S. put itself into the gold medal game. In the semifinals against Canada, O’Reilly sent a perfect cross from the corner right to Alex Morgan, who scored the game-winner in the 123rd minute. In all, O’Reilly and Leroux, who scored a goal in a 2-0 quarterfinal round win over New Zealand, both played four games in the 2012 Olympics. Mitts played one game in what was her third appearance (and third gold medal) at the Summer Olympics. Both Mitts and O’Reilly won gold in 2012, 2008, and 2004.

 Heather O’Reilly

The East Brunswick, N.J. native comes from a huge sports family. Her father, Andy, ran track at Villanova, garnering three All-America honors. Her brother, Kevin, ran both cross country and track while attending the Air Force Academy. O’Reilly’s career took off in high school, East Brunswick High School to be exact, where she scored 143 goals in four years and was named a NSCAA All-America as a freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior. The No. 1 recruit coming out of high school, O’Reilly took her game to the esteemed University of North Carolina.

As a Tar Heel, O’Reilly led her team in goals scored in her sophomore (13) and junior seasons (18), in assists as a senior (16), and in points as a sophomore (37), junior (40), and senior (47). She finished her career at UNC with 59 goals, 49 assists, and 167 points. And, she won two NCAA Championships during her run at UNC, one in which the Tar Heels went 97-3-3, including a perfect 27-0-0 campaign in 2003.

O’Reilly, 28, broke into the U.S. National Team system in 2002 with the U-19 squad. She quickly moved up to the senior team, earning her first cap on March 1, 2002, against Sweden. Seven months later, in a match against Italy, O’Reilly scored her first goal. With the National Team, O’Reilly has earned several accolades and awards. She was named the U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year in 2004, which also was the year in which she was the youngest player to win a gold medal. In 2010, she tied Carla Overbeck’s record of consecutive matches (62); O’Reilly’s streak began in 2007. In 2011, O’Reilly earned her 150th cap, becoming the 16th player in U.S. history to reach that mark. To date, O’Reilly has been capped 179 times and has 36 goals in her international career.

O’Reilly is no stranger to Boston. She currently resides just outside of the city with her husband, Dave Werry, who was a lacrosse standout at UNC. In 2012, when she wasn’t in camp with the National Team, O’Reilly trained with the Breakers during the WPSL Elite season. She made two appearances for the Breakers and notched two assists in 170 minutes. Prior to coming to Boston, O’Reilly won a WPS Championship with Sky Blue FC of New Jersey in 2009. She played three years in WPS, all for Sky Blue FC.

"I’m so excited to be in Boston.  This is a great sports city, and the Breakers organization has had a long-standing presence in the community here, and I think that has been important," O’Reilly said. "The fans are so supportive and knowledgable about the game. I have really grown to love it here in Boston since I’ve been here, and I’m so thrilled I can play in this very competitive league here."

And a question sometimes asked by fans, how’d she earn the nickname HAO (pronounced HEY-oh). Simple: her initials. Her full name is Heather Ann O’Reilly.

Heather Mitts

Mitts, 32, makes her return to Boston, having played for the Breakers in the inagural Women’s Professional Soccer season (2009). Mitts played in 19 games, logging 1,631 minutes for the Breakers. She later suited up for the Philadelphia Independence and Atlanta Beat in WPS, where she played a combined 25 games and helped lead the Independence to the 2010 WPS Championship. She began her pro career in the WUSA, playing for the Philadelphia Charge. A 2003 WUSA All-Star, Mitts played 51 games (4,414 minutes) and notched eight assists during her three-year career with the Charge.

Growing up in Cincinatti, Ohio, Mitts helped lead St. Ursula Academy to a 70-5-10 record and a state title during her junior and senior years at the high school. She then took her game to the University of Florida. As a Gator, Mitts played 95 games (94 starts), both university records, and she became the school’s all-time leader in minutes players (7,547).

"Heather Mitts is somebody who is just the perfect teammate," O’Reilly said. "She’s always going to be fit. She’s always going to be ready to go. She provides so much to the team environment."

On the international scene, Mitts has been capped 137 times for the U.S. She debuted for the U-21 team at the 1999 Nordic Cup and earned her first cap with the senior team on Feb. 24, 1999, against Finland. She scored her first goal on July 3, 2004, in the 2004 Olympics against Canada. She followed that up with her second goal, which came against Iceland during the post-Olympics Fan Celebration Tour.

In 2008, at the Summer Olympics, Mitts set up an O’Reilly goal in the semifinals against Japan. She earned her 100th cap in 2009 in a game against Sweden in the Algarve Cup. She’s considered one of the best outside backs in U.S. Soccer history, and she’s looking forward to bringing her veteran leadership to Boston in 2013.

"My experience with the Breakers was so amazing, I wanted to come back," Mitts said. "I love the city, the culture, and most of all the fans. I am really looking forward to playing in a passionate soccer town again."

Mitts is married to National Football League quarterback A.J. Feeley.

Sydney Leroux

Leroux is one of the rising stars of the U.S. Women’s National Team. The former UCLA All-American played in 27 games for the U.S., all off the bench, and scored 14 goals, the most for a substitute player in U.S. Soccer history. The 22-year-old from Los Angeles won the Golden Ball as the top scorer to lead the U.S. to the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup title. Leroux played in the W-League last summer for the Seattle Sounders Women and now heads to Boston to play for the first time.

"I am excited to be a part of the Breakers," Leroux said.  

Leroux has earned the praises of the entire U.S. Women’s National Team, including one of her new Boston Breakers teammates.

"Syd, although coming off the bench (for the U.S.), she pumped in 14 goals. That was all off the bench!" O’Reilly said. "I’m really proud of Syd as a player. She’s handled herself very well on and off the field. And, she’s entertaining."

Leroux also comes from a family of phenomenal athletes. Her mother played for the Canadian National Softball Team, and her father played for the Anaheim Angels in Major League Baseball. Born in Canada, Leroux moved to the U.S. at the age of 15. Prior coming to the U.S., Leroux starred for  Johnston Heights Secondary School in Surrey, British Columbia. She led the team in scoring as both a freshman and sophomore.

At UCLA, Leroux led the Bruins in scoring as a sophomore in 2009 (48 points; 23 goals, 2 assists), junior in 2010 (37 points; 13 goals, 1 assist), and senior in 2011 (35 points, 16 goals, 3 assists) and was named a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist as a sophomore and senior.

With the U.S. Women’s National Team, Leroux made her debut on Jan.  21, 2011, vs. Sweden. She scored her first goal the following day. It came against Guatemala. On Jan. 20, 2012, she tied a USWNT record with five goals in a 13-0 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying win against Guatemala.

Off the field, one of Leroux’s best friends is her Chihuahua named Boss, who she tells fans may end up with a new name when she arrives in town - "Bosston."

Get your tickets now to see the U.S. Women’s National Team trio play for the Breakers. Visit www.breakerstickets.com to purchase full season and half season memberships.

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