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Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Kristine Lilly: A true Hall of Famer

By Amanda Rykoff

As the blogosphere, statheads, mainstream writers and baseball fans were all atwitter over today's announcement that Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven (finally!) were voted into baseball's Hall of Fame, another all-time great in another sport quietly ended a Hall of Fame career. Kristine Lilly, one of the greatest female soccer players of all time, announced her retirement today.

If you're a sports fan of any kind who paid even the most remote of attention to women's soccer in the past 20 years, you know about Mia Hamm. But you should also know about Kristine Lilly, who, along with Hamm, helped change the face of women's soccer, bring it from college to international relevance and inspire a new generation of female athletes.

Let's take a look at Kristine Lilly's Hall of Fame credentials:

• Four national championships (one for each year she played) at the University of North Carolina from 1989-92

• Five Women's World Cups (the only player to play in all five)

• 352 appearances for the U.S. team, a world record (male or female) that may never be broken

• World Cup wins in 1991 and 1999

• Olympic gold medals in 1996 and 2004

• Lilly is second only to Hamm in both goals scored (130) and assists (105)

In 2010, Lilly helped the U.S. women's team qualify for this summer's World Cup in Germany and she played for the Boston Breakers of the WPS in 2009 and 2010. Congratulations, Kristine Lilly, on your Hall of Fame career. You inspired many young female athletes to follow in your footsteps, a legacy far greater than your incredible one on the pitch.