Soccer alum laces up for New Zealand Olympic team

Jeremy Tepper

The 2012 London Olympics marked Ali Riley’s ’06 second trip to the world’s biggest sporting event.

She first appeared in Beijing four years ago, where the Stanford product led the New Zealand National Women’s Soccer Team through pool play.

A dual citizen of the United States and New Zealand, Riley has made 59 appearances for the New Zealand Senior Womens’ team and has become a star in the Women’s Professional Soccer circuit as a two-time all-pro selection. Riley played every minute of the four 2012 Olympic matches that New Zealand competed in and led her squad to a quarterfinals matchup against the United States.

“It felt very strange to hear the United States national anthem being played and to see my friends and Stanford teammates on the other end of the field,” Riley told Stanford Magazine. “But now that I have played with New Zealand for so many years, I think of myself as a Kiwi when it comes to soccer.”

The New Zealanders ultimately fell in London to the gold medal-winning Americans in a 0-2 defeat, though the team advanced further than any other soccer team the country has sent to the Olympics before.

“I’ve learned what it takes to be successful at the highest level of sport, and I know what I have to do to be even better,” Riley said.  “I still get goose bumps thinking about it. It’s something that stays with you for four years and drives you to continue working hard so you can play in another one.”