Soccer Training at the Academy with Yael
As a young player, Yael started playing with other girls her age. But by the time she was 11, she needed a new challenge. From the ages of 11-14, she was the only girl on a boys’ team. To this day, she credits those years as some of the most difficult but pivotal in developing in ways that no other experience could have achieved.
In eighth grade, Yael joined a New Jersey club called World Class and played for the U18 girls team throughout her high school years. Yael opted out of playing for her high school soccer team in order to use the season to train on her own and with boys. It wasn’t an easy decision, but by that she was very involved with her club team and constantly traveling with youth national teams.
In 2005, Yael achieved the first part of her long-time goal: she began her college career at The University of North Carolina (UNC), the ultimate powerhouse for women’s collegiate soccer. During her time at UNC, she won two National Championships (in 2006 and 2008), set an NCAA record with 105 consecutive starts, and scored the fastest goal in women’s collegiate soccer history (the video of which now has over 4 million hits on YouTube). Her college jersey, number 17, was retired after her last season at UNC. Above all, though, her years at UNC taught Yael how to be a warrior on the field, both physically and mentally, and brought her together with so many amazing people who will remain some of her best friends for years to come.
After her sophomore season of college, in 2007, Yael got her first cap with the U.S. Women’s National Team against England at the Four Nations Tournament in China. Although it seemed that she could check that second goal of playing for the National Team off the list, her work was not done. For the next couple of years, she was in and out of National Team camps. Not until 2010 did Yael become a more permanent member of the team.
She finished her college eligibility at a perfect time to begin the inaugural season of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS). Yael was drafted to Sky Blue FC, based in her home state of New Jersey, and played for the team for the first two seasons. They won the league championship in 2009, beating the much-favored LA Sol 1-0 in the championship game. In the 2011 season, she signed with the Western NY Flash and also captured a league championship title, playing alongside Marta, Christine Sinclair, and Alex Morgan.
From there, soccer took Yael on the road, as she played for professional teams in both Russia, and Sweden for Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC. She then joined the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and played for the Washington Spirit. In the offseason, she took her game to Cyprus and represented Apollon Ladies FC. As a young player, she never could have imagined the opportunities she would have to play the sport she loves around the world.
Every day she feels extraordinarily grateful to be living her childhood dreams. Yael works hard at what she does and will never stop setting new goals and pushing herself to be better, but she doesn’t see it as work because she enjoys every moment. There are countless people who have helped guide her along her journey as coaches, mentors, friends, and supporters. To Yael, soccer is much more than her job. It is a game that she loves and respects far beyond her own involvement.