CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Virginia field hockey players Paige Selenski (Shavertown, Pa.) and Michelle Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) are two members of the 16-person roster who will represent the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England. USA head field hockey coach Lee Bodimeade officially announced the roster Monday.
Selenski and Vittese, both All-Americans at Virginia, become the first members of the program to represent UVa in the Olympics.
"This is a celebratory moment for Paige and Michelle and all they have accomplished at the highest echelon of their sport," Virginia head coach Michele Madison said. "They took a year off from their studies to pursue a life-long dream and they succeeded. Paige and Michelle possess the talent, intelligence and expertise to compete in a world arena for Team USA against the best athletes in the world. We are very proud they will be representing not only their country, but the University of Virginia as well."
Both Selenski and Vittese were members of the United States' first gold medal team at the 2011 Pan American Games held in October in Guadalajara, Mexico. The Americans upset then-world No. 1 Argentina 4-2 in the championship match to automatically qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games. Both Cavaliers contributed with a goal apiece in the gold medal game.
Selenski is a three-time All-American, including being twice named to the first team, in her first three seasons with the Cavaliers. Entering her final season of eligibility, she ranks third in both career points (171) and goals (73) in program history. She is also a three-time first team all-region and three-time all-conference selection. Selenski was selected as the 2008 National Freshman of the Year and the ACC Freshman of the Year.
"I am honored to have been named to the Olympic roster, especially with the depth of talent that our national squad possesses," Selenski said. "The past year has been a long journey for myself and our entire team. We will have to keep progressing and working hard over the next month and a half as we look forward to being successful against the best teams in the world and earn a spot on the podium."
Vittese is a two-time All-American, including a first-team selection as a junior in 2010. She has 16 career goals and 19 career assists for 51 points in a Virginia uniform. She is also a three-time all-region honoree and has twice been named an all-conference performer. Vittese was named the U.S. Player of the Year by USA Field Hockey last week.
"It means everything to me," Vittese said. "I have prepared for this moment for so long and it's been my biggest goal ever since I was a kid. Being the competitive person that I am, it is going to be a great experience to put my skills to the test on a stage of this magnitude. The pressure is going to be awesome; the whole world will be watching. The Olympic Games are the paramount moment in any athlete's life."
The United States has been drawn into a challenging pool made up of No. 2 Argentina, No. 3 Germany, No. 6 New Zealand, No. 7 Australia and No. 12 South Africa. The Americans will open Pool B play at the Olympic Games against Germany on Sunday, July 29. From there, the U.S. will advance to their next opponents in the tournament - Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and then close the preliminary rounds with South Africa on Monday, August 6. The women's first semifinal will take place on Wednesday, August 8, and the gold-medal round commences on Friday, August 10.
Team USA will begin its final preparation for the London Games at 8 p.m. on Monday, June 18, with the start of a four-game test series against Argentina at UVa's University Hall Turf Field. Admission and parking is free to the public.
The team will depart for London on July 21.
Selenski and Vittese join several other current and former Virginia student-athletes who are expected to compete in the London Olympics, including women's soccer players Becky Saurerbrunn (United States) and Lori Lindsey (alternate, United States); swimmers Katya Bachrouche (Lebanon) and David Karasek (Switzerland); and rower Inge Janssen (Netherlands).
2012 U.S. Olympic Women's Field Hockey Team
Goalkeeper: Amy Swensen (Grantville, Pa.)
Defenders: Lauren Crandall (Doylestown, Pa.), Claire Laubach (Centreville, Va.), Caroline Nichols (Virginia Beach, Va.), Julia Reinprecht (Perkasie, Pa.)
Midfielders: Kayla Bashore Smedley (Shoemakersville, Pa.), Katelyn Falgowski (Landenberg, Pa.), Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.), Katie Reinprecht (Perkasie, Pa.), Rachel Dawson (Berlin, N.J.)
Strikers: Michelle Kasold (Chapel Hill, N.C.), Katie O'Donnell (Blue Bell, Pa.), Paige Selenski (Shavertown, Pa.), Keli Smith Puzo (Selinsgrove, Pa.), Shannon Taylor (Midlothian, Va.), Michelle Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.)