Sarah Hagen battling OAFC's Minnie Mercado at the 2010 WPSL National Championship. Photo: WPSL
Women's Soccer News: WPSL Player Spotlight: Sarah Hagen
Two-time All-WPSL selection for F.C. Milwaukee and U.S. U-23 National Team standout prepares to move to Europe for pro career.
The collegiate and amateur career for Sarah Hagen was completed in November and she's ready to take on the world. It didn't take long for her to be recognized, as the U.S. U-23 Women's National Team star and two-time All-Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) selection was signed to a professional contract with Bayern Munich of the German Frauen-Bundesliga in December.
This occurred only a few weeks before the 2012 Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) Draft, which was held at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Annual Convention on Friday, January 13th. Needless to say, the services for one of the top rising stars in the U.S. game are in demand. Over the past few years, Hagen's success has been well documented, especially, after her strong showing for the U-23 side in last year's Four Nations Tournament.
This will be the first professional contract for the former F.C. Milwaukee standout, who helped her WPSL side reach the National Championship in 2010 and were one win away from a repeat trip in 2011. Sarah wrapped up her University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee career last fall as a four-time All-American, who led the nation in goals per game (1.238), points per game (2.90) and game-winning goals. Her 93 career goals are good for ninth in NCAA Division I history (212 points, 17th all-time).
This success is doubly impressive when you know that Hagen battled back from dysgerminoma, a form of ovarian cancer, at age 13. In spite of six months of treatment, including two major surgeries and three rounds of chemotherapy, Hagen returned to the pitch with a will and desire to return to top form. With support from family, friends and coaches, she regained her form and moved on to her successful college and amateur careers.
Comparisons to current USWNT star Abby Wambach abound for the 5'11 forward who also has a dominant air game, but for any observer who has seen both play at this particular time of their careers, Hagen may have an edge with her technical game. Before her life becomes completely embroiled in the professional ranks, the Appleton, WI, native was kind enough to drop in to do a Q&A segment with WPSL:
WPSL: First off, congratulations again on signing with Bayern Munich of the German Frauen-Bundesliga! How did that whole situation come about and what factored into your decision? Does this affect your status concerning the upcoming Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) Draft?
Sarah Hagen: Thank you! After my final college season ended I knew I wanted to play professionally and wanted to know what other options there were for me besides WPS. This was mainly because I wasn't sure if the WPS was going to be able to even have a enough teams to have a league. My assistant coach at UWM, David Nikolic, was a big part in helping me to find the best place to go. He found me a great agent who talked to many different clubs about me and was able to get me an offer from Bayern Munich. I am very excited to have the opportunity to play for a club like Bayern Munich and am thankful that I can continue to play. As far as the WPS draft goes, I've been hearing that I can still get drafted or even get picked up after my season in the Bundesliga ends.
WPSL: You had a stellar collegiate career for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and were a two-time All-WPSL selection for F.C. Milwaukee. How do you think both of those experiences will aid you in your next soccer endeavor?
Sarah Hagen: I think over my four years at UWM the coaches, Mike Moynihan and David Nikolic, really have helped me install in my head that I could play professionally. It has always been a dream of mine to play professionally, but after my experience with cancer I wasn't as fit and wasn't sure if I still had the ability to. After having success my freshman year in college I started to have more confidence, which helped my play and got me an invite with the U-23 WNT.
Having two years of camps with the U-23s has helped me grow as a player, undoubtedly. It helped show me that I could play professionally and showed me what it takes to get to the next level. Playing for F.C. Milwaukee in the WPSL was a great option for me between the college seasons because it was such a high level of play. I think it definitely helped me stay fit and helped get me prepared for my fall season of college soccer.
|Sarah Hagen in U.S. U23 uniform. Photo: WPSL
WPSL: Your on-the-field exploits with the U.S. U-23 Women's National Team in 2011 were well-documented, including your 3 goals in as many matches in the Four Nations Tournament. What is it like to put on a jersey representing your country and then perform so brightly in it?
Sarah Hagen: Playing with the U-23 WNT was such a great experience and I enjoyed it so much. When you put on a USA jersey for the first time it feels weird, but it gives you so much pride and desire to do your best. The biggest thing that I'll take from the experience is being able to play with people from colleges all over the country. Everyone at camp is so talented and to be selected among those 25 girls is an honor.
WPSL: It takes a certain strength to perform on the national and international stage but an entirely different (and deeper) one when it comes to fighting off a deadly disease: especially as a teenager. What were the greatest life lessons you learned in your battle with cancer?
Sarah Hagen: The biggest lesson that I learned from my battle with cancer was to persevere. There are things that come along in your life that may not be what you're expecting or want to experience, but those experiences make you stronger as a person.
When I had my cancer I was only a freshman in high school and didn't quite understand why it was happening to me, but the positive outlook given to me by my family, friends, classmates, teammates, and coaches helped in such a big way.
There wasn't a doubt in my mind that I was going to beat it. There were times that were very difficult, such as the treatment and multiple surgeries, but I don't think I could have done it without the support from all of the people in my life.
WPSL: The WPSL will be even stronger this season and is the largest Women's League in the world. F.C. Milwaukee made it to the 2010 National Championship and were one game away in 2011. What final message do you have for your former teammates who look to qualify again for a chance for a national title?
Sarah Hagen: I know how hard it is to win in the WPSL, and with F.C. Milwaukee we've had quite a bit of success in the past two summers. That success happened because of the hard work and dedication we had to each other to show up for practices and to get better. I'm sure if the same dedication and willingness to get better is on the team's mind, then they will have the same amount of success and I wish them all the best of luck.
About the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL): The WPSL is a semi-pro national league competing in five conferences and is the largest women's soccer league in the world. The league is sanctioned by the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) as an affiliate of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF).
The WPSL's mission is to provide the highest level of soccer in our effort to: bring affordable and quality family entertainment to the community; display positive role models for our youth; while, being a stepping stone for aspiring professional and international-level players.
For more information, visit their official website, phone them at 1-800-854-0913 or contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also keep up with the league through social media networking sites on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
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