The following press release was issued by the Pali Blues Soccer Club:
The Pali Blues announced on March 4 that goalkeeper Anna Picarelli will return to the team for her third W-League season. Along with her, the Blues are also thrilled to announce the addition of midfielder Ashley Nick, who helped the USC Trojans to a national championship in 2007.
Picarelli has been a long-time member of the Italian Women’s National Team with 43 total international appearances. She has played with the Blues since 2011, and has become a key player both on and off the field for the Blues organization.
Picarelli shared her thoughts on playing her third season. Pali Blues head coach Charlie Naimo will look for her to be a leader on a team primarily comprised of collegiate players.
"I think this season is going to be the most exciting season so far," she said. "Charlie is putting together a great group of girls both talent wise and personality wise. The talent may be younger on average than last year’s, but I believe the potential we have as a group is off the charts."
Naimo said it's great to have Picarelli back.
“She is the voice at the back and a true leader on and off the field," he said. "I am confident she will lead this year’s group to similar defensive results as last year."
The leadership role is one that Picarelli embraces ahead of the season in hopes of winning the Blues’ third championship in six seasons.
"I am more excited for this year for a couple reasons," she said. "First off, last year ended bittersweet, losing in the finals in a penalty kick shootout, so the redemption of regaining W-League championship is fueled to the max. Secondly, I am looking forward to being able to share my career experiences with this younger group of players and I hope that I can help them reach their true potential. I plan to give it my all to be true captain alongside the other captains and create an environment that encourages the girls and sets a professional standard for the group.”
Nick was named an All-American in 2007 when she led the USC Trojans to a College Cup championship. She was twice named to the All-Pac 10 First Team while at USC, and finished her collegiate career with 11 goals and 11 assists.
After college, Nick went on to play professionally in Europe where she starred for Dutch side FC Twente. As captain of the team, she led her club to its first-ever Vrouwen Eredivisie league title in 2011. The following year, she played for Norwegian side Anna Bjornar, where she was named the Biggest Impact Player.
Nick has taken a job at her alma mater as director of pperations for the women's soccer team, and is glad to be able to continue her playing career with the Pali Blues.
"The Pali Blues have been a strong team with a competitive environment for years so that helped my decision to take the job at USC, knowing I would still be happy on the field," she said.
Naimo said he's thrilled to add Nick to the roster to improve in some areas of weakness for the team in 2012.
"Ashley gives us versatility and has tremendous presence," he said. "Her ability to keep the ball will help us establish the flow we did not have at times last season. She is a great pro as well, and it never hurts to have a natural left-sided player that can dominate in the air."
The Blues will kick off the season with a home game at Palisades High School against the L.A. Strikers on May 18 at 7 p.m. PST. Information on tickets can be found at bluessoccerclub.com.