COLORADO SPRINGS, C.O. - While Michelle Cesan (Harding, NJ) had been on National Team Coaches radar for quite some time, she did not enter the 2011 Women’s National Championship as a superstar, but she certainly left as one.
On Friday, May 26 at the conclusion of the Women’s National Championships, not only was Cesan announced to the Women’s National Team, but she was also announced as one of the eighteen athletes selected to travel to Ireland for Champions Challenge, an elite level international hockey tournament.
“I was shocked when I heard my name called as a member of the USA National Team,” said Cesan. “It has always been a goal of mine and when I found I had done it, I was honored and ecstatic.”
As a freshman, Cesan emerged as a leading striker, starting all nineteen games for the Princeton Tigers and ranking third on the team in scoring.
Cesan would enter her junior year this fall at Princeton University. But unlike most of her friends and college students across the country, she will not return to campus in August. Instead, academics will temporarily be put aside to pursue her dream of representing the United States at the Olympic Games.
Cesan will relocate to San Diego, CA, where she will focus solely on field hockey. Living close by to the Olympic Training Center will provide her with all the support and tools necessary to develop her game and foster international, Pan Am and Olympic success.
“I just feel lucky to be playing with these girls and training with them as the Pan Ams and London Olympics approach,” said Cesan. “I am going to give it my all every day.”
Accompanying rookie Cesan in Ireland will be veteran to the team Amy Swensen (Harrisburg, PA), formerly known as Amy Tran. Swensen, a University of North Carolina graduate, made her debut on the National Team in 2001.
Since then, her all-star performance at the 2006 World Cup and other elite international tournaments not only earned her a spot on the 2008 Beijing Olympic Team roster, but also earned her recognition as the number one goalkeeper in the world.
After failing to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, Swensen put her goalkeeping equipment aside to pursue a different dream, a career in massage therapy. She also married longtime boyfriend Mark Swensen and made Norfolk, VA her new home.
Swensen met up with old teammates at the Women’s National Championships for the first time in almost a year. She immediately put herself back in contention for the starting spot on the National Team and earned a place on the Champions Challenge traveling squad.
“I’m really happy to be back on the team,” said Swensen. “I feel rejuvenated after a long break. The team looks strong and competitive and it is great to be a part of this group again.”
As with Cesan, Swensen will also relocate to San Diego upon returning to the States. Her focus will shift to field hockey as she prepares for her second Olympic appearance, only this time Swensen is hoping for a podium finish.
Sixteen other girls accompany Cesan and Swensen today, as the team travels to Dublin, Ireland to begin training for Champions Challenge, which will commence on Saturday, June 18. Eight teams are set to participate in the round robin, bi-annual event.
USA will face Japan on opening day, Saturday, June 18. USA will also go up against Scotland on Sunday, June 19 and South Africa on Tuesday, June 21, before advancing on to the quarterfinals. Winners will move to the semi-finals and medal rounds. The champion will receive an automatic entry into Champions Trophy, the most prestigious international field hockey event that comprises the top six teams in the world.
The schedule for USA is as follows, with all matches listed in local time and EST listed in parenthesis. The full schedule can be viewed here. Receive live updates from Ireland on Twitter @USAFieldHockey. Results, news, photos and more will be posted to the website daily.
USA vs Japan, Saturday, June 18 @ 10:00am (3:00pm)
USA vs Scotland, Sunday, June 19 @ 10:30am (3:30pm)
USA vs South Africa, Tuesday, June 21 @ 1:30pm (6:30pm)
Quarterfinals, Thursday, June 23
Semifinals, Saturday, June 25
Finals, Sunday, June 26
USA Roster: Torrie Albini (Escondido, CA), Kayla Bashore (Shoemakersville, PA), Michelle Cesan (New Vernon, NJ) Lauren Crandall (Doylestown, PA), Rachel Dawson (Berlin, NJ), Katelyn Falgowski (Ladenberg, PA), Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, NY), Michelle Kasold (Chapel Hill, NC), Jaclyn Kintzer (Chapel Hill, NC), Claire Laubach (San Diego, CA), Caroline Nichols (Virginia Beach, VA), Katie O’Donnell (Blue Bell, PA), Julia Reinprecht (Perkasie, PA), Katie Reinprecht (Perkasie, PA), Paige Selenski (Shavertown, PA), Amy Swensen (Norfolk, VA), Shannon Taylor (La Mesa, CA), Michelle Vittese (Woodbury, NJ)