Brown's Pro Experience A Definite Plus for SeaLions
John D. Homan
July 14, 2016
Photo by Aaron Jaffe
SAN DIEGO – If it’s true that “goals win games, but defense wins championships,” former USWNT veteran and 2016 SeaLion newcomer Leigh Ann Brown has helped put the 2013 WPSL Champion San Diego SeaLions on the right track to another national title.
Brown, a savvy outside defender known for being equally adept securing the back line defense or pushing forward to start or support an attack, spent seven years in the professional ranks, including three years in the now-defunct WPS (2009-11) and three more with the NWSL’s FC Kansas City (2013-15) before finding a new soccer home in San Diego.
“Leigh Ann has made a big difference not only on defense, but also bolstering our confidence on offense,” says San Diego head coach Jen Lalor, herself a USWNT veteran. “She can single-handedly change the flow of a match, and enables us to attack freely and creatively, without worrying or looking over our shoulders.”
And it shows. Twelve different players have scored 21 goals this season for the unbeaten SeaLions, who’ve already clinched first place and a spot in the 2016 WPSL playoffs. And they’ve yielded just four goals, tied for sixth-best in the 100-team WPSL and notably less than the eleven goals surrendered enroute to their 2013 championship, and the ten goals given up last season.
"I joined the SeaLions and the WPSL because they play at a professional level, but without all of the pressure of the pro lifestyle," says Brown, who starred at Mt. Carmel High School before leading the University of San Diego soccer team through 45 wins and two NCAA Tournament runs from 2004-2007. "One of the biggest factors you face in jumping to the professional ranks is the discipline it takes on and off the field. Your teammates hold you accountable but you also have to learn to hold yourself accountable, too, and push through adversity, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. I’ve noticed some of that same discipline on this SeaLions team."
Brown says soccer has given her the best years of her life. "I’m fortunate to have gotten to play at the highest echelons, if only for a short amount of time," she adds, “and I’m not yet ready to give it up.” So when Brown’s not playing the game she loves, she’s coaching it. She serves as a full-time assistant coach at USD, and she also coaches youth players at San Diego Soccer Club.
"Ironically, I didn’t play soccer in high school,” Brown recalls, smiling. “Nowadays, that’s unheard of, but it was a nice break and probably a big factor in why I’m not yet ready to stop.”
Brown, who played under her maiden name of Robinson before being married in September, 2015, says she derives her inspiration to continue to play soccer, and live life to the fullest, from her husband, Danny Brown, an architect and former USD basketball letterman. "It’s an everyday thing. That's why I made him marry me," she joked. "He is genuinely one of the most selfless people I’ve ever known, and inspires me to try to be that way.”
Selfless, indeed. “She excels at creating opportunities for her teammates,” says assistant coach Lu Snyder, “and that’s the mark of a true professional, at any level and in any profession.”
The San Diego SeaLions (www.SeaLionSoccer.com) are a non-profit 501c3 entity dedicated to fostering women's soccer coaching, playing, and business management opportunities. It’s one of the oldest and most successful women’s soccer clubs in the USA and is a charter member of the 100-team WPSL. The SeaLions play their home matches at Manchester Stadium on the campus of Cathedral High School, 5555 Del Mar Heights Road, San Diego, CA 92130.
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