PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The 2011 FIFA World Cup begins on Sunday with a distinct BIG EAST feel as 10 people with league ties, including eight players, will be in action. The United States team will carry three former BIG EAST stars on its roster, including Shannon Boxx (Notre Dame '99), Carli Lloyd (Rutgers `04) and Jillian Loyden (Villanova `07).
Five stars with league connections also will suit up for Canada. Rutgers rising sophomore Jonelle Filigno and current Rutgers assistant coach Karina LeBlanc will be joined by former UConn standout Stephanie Labbe (`08) as two of three goalkeepers to represent Canada, which plays in Group A.
Filigno will be blogging her experiences from the tournament on ScarletKnights.com, while you can follow Labbe throughout the tournament and read about her journey towards making the World Cup roster at Our Game Magazine. A pair of ex-Notre Dame players also are on the Team Canada roster in Candace Chapman (`05) and Melissa Tancredi (`04).
The United States has been placed in Group C and begins play June 28 at 12:15 p.m. against Korea. The U.S. will play Columbia on July 2 at 12:00 p.m. and Sweden on July 6 at 2:45 p.m. The top two teams in each pool advance to the quarterfinals. The complete schedule can be found here.
Canada begins play June 26 at 12:00 p.m. against Germany. Team Canada also will play France on June 30 at 12:00 p.m. and Nigeria on July 5 at 2:45 p.m.
In addition, ex-Notre Dame star Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf (`98) will provide play-by-play commentary for ESPN, while Irish standout Monica Gonzalez (`01) will serve as an ESPN studio host.
Although host Germany and the U.S. have combined to win four of the five FIFA Women's World Cups, they have yet to meet in the Final. Team USA is the only nation to reach the semifinals at all five previous tournaments and won the event in 1999.
ESPN and ESPN2 will televise the entire tournament.