Boston Breakers to retire Kristine Lilly’s No. 13

Kristine Lilly will become the first female professional athlete in Boston sports history to have her number retired when the Breakers honor the U.S. soccer legend at halftime of Sunday’s Breakers game against the Philadelphia Independence. She is also the first player in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) history to have her number retired. Lilly played for the Breakers in 2009 and 2010 and for the WUSA Breakers from 2001-2003. She is the most capped player in US Soccer history (men and women) with 352 international appearances for the United States Women’s National Team.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino proclaimed Friday, May 20, 2011, as Kristine Lilly Day at an event held at City Hall Plaza in Boston. “Not only has she been a remarkable force in the world of soccer, but she has been a one-of-a-kind role model to young girls who strive to do achieve special goals each and every day,” Menino said. “We are truly fortunate to have Kristine Lilly be a part of our city’s illustrious sports history as the first woman to have her number retired by a Boston sports team.”

Lilly has appeared in five FIFA Women’s World Cups and three Olympic Games. She spent her entire professional career as a member of the Boston Breakers. In her final season in 2010, she earned WPS All-Star honors and guided the team to the WPS Super Semi-Final. Sunday, the Breakers will retire Lilly’s No. 13 at a halftime ceremony of their game against the Philadelphia Independence. The game takes place at 4 p.m. at Harvard Stadium. Kristine Lilly Night will include special guests and a video tribute highlighting her career.

“Kristine is the most decorated player in the history of women’s soccer and arguably the greatest female athlete in Boston sports history,” Boston Breakers Head Coach Tony DiCicco said. “It was a true honor to coach Kristine as a professional here in Boston and for the 1999 World Cup winning US Women’s National Team.”

When Lilly announced her retirement back in January, a number of players talked about how much Lilly influenced them, while others talked about how much she brought to the game.

“Lil was always a hero of mine growing up,” said WNY Flash midfielder Yael Averbuch. “She was part of the generation of women who paved the way for all of us. Having the opportunity to play alongside her was a great honor, and I was able to learn a lot from her experience, passion, and leadership. I feel very fortunate to have been able to watch and play with such a soccer legend.”

Australian Women’s National Team Coach Tom Sermanni talked about Lilly, who he coached against on both the national level and in the WUSA. “(She) maintained the same high energy levels and outstanding performances during the closing years of her career as she did at what would be considered her peak,” Sermanni said. “(She) played with passion, sportsmanship, and a smile on her face. A great role model for both young aspiring soccer players and seasoned internationals.”