During her career as a center midfielder at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Averbuch was named national player of the year by both Soccer Buzz and Top Drawer Soccer. Averbuch was selected in the first round of the 2009 WPS Draft (4th overall) by her home state team, Sky Blue FC.
She played for Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC in the Damallsvenskan of the UEFA Women's Champions League and made a brief stint with WFC Rossiyanka. She is a two-time WPS champion with Sky Blue FC and the Western New York Flash.
Averbuch played for the United States at every level of the youth national teams, and as of 2013 played for the United States women's national soccer team.
Averbuch, who is Jewish, was born in New York City. She is the daughter of Gloria Averbuch and Paul Friedman. Her middle name is her father's last name and her last name is her mother's maiden name.
Averbuch's hometown was Upper Montclair, and she attended Montclair High School in Essex County, New Jersey, graduating in 2005. Yael attained High Honor Roll status all four years in high school. She did not play high school soccer, concentrating on club soccer instead. She was named an NSCAA All-American and USYSA All-American as a sophomore, junior and senior. As a junior and senior, she was named Parade All-American.
During her career as a center midfielder at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Averbuch set a record starting 105 consecutive games. She was a two-time captain and was selected first-team All-Performer the Atlantic Coast Conference, one of the most competitive conferences in the country. She helped the Tar Heels win two NCAA Women's College Cup titles in 2006 and 2008. In 2006 and 2007, she earned NSCAA All-America first team status. In 2008, she was named to the NSCAA All-America second team and earned NSCAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year and NCAA VIII Award honors.
As a freshman in 2005, Averbuch started all 25 games. She scored three of her four goals off direct kicks as the team's free kick and corner kick specialist. She was named to the Soccer America and Soccer Buzz first-team freshman All-America teams after notching seven assists and four goals in her first season with the Tar Heels. She was also named the Soccer Buzz Southeast Region Freshman of the Year and was tapped for the All-Southeast Region Second Team and Southeast Region All-Freshman Team. Averbuch was recognized by the ACC as an Academic All-Conference player and as a member of ACC All-Freshmen Team. She was named to the Duke adidas Classic All-Tournament Team as well as the 2005–06 ACC Honor Roll.
In 2006, Averbuch was Carolina's second-leading scorer with 39 points and led the team in game-winning goals with seven. She was named national player of the year by both Soccer Buzz and Top Drawer Soccer and was a finalist for both the Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy and the Honda Soccer Award. She set an NCAA record for fastest goal scored in a game when she scored four seconds into the match at Yale on the direct kick at midfield to start the game. Averbuch assisted on both goals against UCLA in the NCAA semifinals and was named the ACC's Offensive Player of the Year, Soccer Buzz's Southeast Region player of the year, first-team All-ACC, and All-ACC Academic for a second straight year. She was also named to ESPN The Magazine's women's soccer third-team Academic All-America.
During her junior year in 2007, Averbuch appeared in and started every game for the Tar Heels. She was fourth on the team with 18 points, collected six goals and six assists for the season, and led the team in shots taken with 88. She was named to the ESPN The Magazine/College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District Team and was a second-team ESPN The Magazine All-America selection. She was named ACC's Scholar-Athlete of the Year for women's soccer and was an All-ACC Academic Team selection, first-team All-ACC and All-ACC Tournament selection. She was also a finalist for Soccer Buzz Player of the Year and a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist. She made three first-team All-America Teams as named by the NSCAA coaches, Soccer America and Soccer Buzz and was an Umbro/Soccer News Net Player of the Year Award finalist. Averbuch was also a Soccer Buzz and NSCAA first-team All-Southeast Region selection as well as Jewish Sports Review All America.
Averbuch played for the New Jersey Lady Stallions in the W-League from 2002 to 2004. At just 14 years of age, she became the youngest player at that time to appear in the W-League.
Averbuch was selected in the first round of the 2009 WPS Draft (4th overall) by her home state team, Sky Blue FC. During the 2009 season, she started 14 of 18 games and assisted Keeley Dowling's game-winning goal in the WPS Semifinal against the Saint Louis Athletica. The team went on to beat the Los Angeles Sol 1–0 to clinch the 2009 WPS Championship.
In 2010, Averbuch returned to Sky Blue, playing in 23 games, starting 19 and scoring one goal.
In 2011, Averbuch signed with the Western New York Flash. She made 14 appearances with eight starts, playing a total of 751 minutes, helping her team win the 2011 WPS Championship in penalties by scoring the winning penalty kick against the Philadelphia Independence.
After the end of the 2011 WPS season and suspension of the league, Averbuch headed to Moscow, Russia for a month to join WFC Rossiyanka for the quarterfinal of the UEFA Champions League. She, along with Kia McNeill and Leigh Ann Robinson, were brought in by the coach to help strengthen the team as it prepared to face Germany's 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam in the UEFA Women's Champions League. Averbuch made two appearances for the team.
In 2012, Averbuch signed with Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC in Sweden. She made 10 appearances (starting 9 games) and played a total of 837 minutes while scoring six goals.
She won a national championship with FC Kansas City.
Averbuch played for the United States at every level of the youth national teams, starting with the U-16 women's national team in 2002 and U-17 team in 2003 before joining the U-19 team later in 2003. She finished her U-19 career with 15 caps and two goals and was a member of the U.S. team that finished third at the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women's World Cup in Thailand, where she played in two matches. She played for the U.S. U-23s in 2008, captaining the team to a Nordic Cup title in Sweden.
Averbuch earned her first two senior team caps in 2007, coming off the bench in two matches at the Four Nations Tournament in China, playing against England (on January 28, 2007) and China. In 2009, she was called upon to start at outside midfield against Germany in the USA's 1–0 victory in October in Augsburg, her only match of the year. In 2010, she played in 10 matches while starting five and scoring one goal.
Averbuch's first goal for the United States women's national soccer team occurred during a 2010 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup qualifier against Costa Rica on November 1, 2010, in Cancun, Mexico. She played in three matches during the Women's World Cup qualifying matches, starting two.Scores and results list the United States' goal tally first.
Set an NCAA record for the fastest goal scored in a game when she scored four seconds into the match at Yale in 2006 on a shot taken directly after the kickoff touch. (video)
Averbuch, who is Jewish, was named a first-team All-American on the Jewish Sports Review's 2006 Women's College Division I All-America Soccer Team.
She was also honored in the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum on April 29, 2007.
ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) Scholar-Athlete of the Year for women's soccer, 2007 & 2008.
Was one of three finalists for the MAC Hermann Trophy award in 2006 for top college player in the country.
Received the NCAA VIII award, given to 8 seniors nationwide for athletic/academic/community achievements.
Retired her UNC college jersey number in Spring, 2009.
Averbuch writes a soccer blog for The New York Times. She is also a regular correspondent for Our Game Magazine.
Averbuch's hometown is Montclair, New Jersey. Her younger sister, Shira, was a midfielder for Stanford University and represented the Team USA in July 2013 in the 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel and is a current employee of Soccer United Marketing.