Philadelphia, Pa. – There are few guarantees in sports, but that Morgan Brian would be the first player selected in today’s NWSL Draft was one. The Houston Dash did the expected, selecting the rising U.S. WNT star, then Western New York and the UCLA Bruins took over.
Houston coach Randy Waldron surely never had a doubt about the pick. “She’s one of the rising superstars,” the Dash coach said of Brian, “she’s special. I probably could have used a back or a forward more, but she’s such a special talent you can’t pass on her.”
With that inevitability aside, Sky Blue FC chose Sarah Killion the UCLA midfielder with the second pick in the draft, sparking a run of three straight Bruins being selected, the latter two going to Western New York.
With four picks in the first round, Flash coach Aaran Lines had a chance to significantly restock his team, and he did just that.
“We think we came up with something good,” Lines said afterwards. “We’re very happy. Those four picks went our way. We had a plan,” the coach said, “and we were able to execute that plan.”
WNY took defender Abby Dahlkemper third, and then added midfielder Sam Mewis at number four, a talented attacking midfielder who has earned caps with the U.S. WNT in the past year.
WNY added a forward with the sixth pick, opting for Pepperdine speedster Lynn Williams and then Jaelene Hinkle, a fullback from Texas Tech with its final selection of the first round.
Lines praised all of his new players, saying of Williams that, “she comes from a quieter school,” and “I think she’ll be eager to prove a point as well.”
Williams chatted briefly with GotSoccer, and she wasn’t the least bit concerned with joining the UCLA club up in Western New York. “No, I’ve played with a couple of them before, so I’m excited to play with them again,” she said. Neither was the Fresno, California native worried about the harsh weather Western New York is known for. No, Williams was already thinking about playing forward alongside U.S. WNT legend Abby Wambach.
Williams admitted that she was, “very excited, I can learn a lot, I am very excited to play with her.” Williams hasn’t met Wambach, “well maybe for a split second,” she said.
The young forward sounds like she plans on being an eager student at Wambach School for Strikers, telling GotSoccer, “She just has been in the game for so long.” “I think,” Williams said, “I can learn, one movement off the ball, finishing, pretty much everything,” from the veteran.
The speedster doesn’t plan on being idle while she waits for Flash training camp to open up. No, she will be running track at Pepperdine. “I ran track in high school,” Williams laughed when asked if she is a track star. A sprinter, “400 meters and down,” she may have ended up going to college for track, but ultimately chose soccer.
With college soccer behind her Williams figured, “hey why not give it one last go.” So, she must be pretty fast on the soccer field, right? “That’s what they tell me,” Williams laughed modestly.
The Chicago Red Stars did what they could to break up the UCLA/WNY stranglehold on the Draft’s opening round, owning two of the nine picks, and using neither on a UCLA player.
The Red Stars did make some news at the close of the first round, trading Stephanie McCaffrey, who they selected fifth to the Boston Breakers, for the ninth pick in the round and the second pick of the second round.
Chicago selected midfielder Danielle Colapricio from UVA with that ninth pick, and tabbed forward Sofia Huerta with the 11th pick. The Breakers landed the Boston College and U.S. WNT U23 forward McCaffrey, a Massachusetts native.
The draft takes on added importance for the nine NWSL clubs in a World Cup year, and the teams came in looking to strengthen squads that will lose top players to nations from all around the world to Canada 2015.
It usually takes a couple of years to rate a draft, this years NWSL crop may not have that much time to grow.
015 NWSL College Draft Results
— Round 1 –
No. 1 – Morgan Brian – UVA (Houston Dash)
No. 2 – Sarah Killion – UCLA (Sky Blue FC)
No. 3 – Abby Dahlkemper – UCLA (WNY Flash)
No. 4 – Samantha Mewis – UCLA (WNY Flash)
No. 5 – Stephanie McCaffrey – BC (Chicago Red Stars)
No. 6 – Lynn Williams – Pepperdine (WNY Flash)
No. 7 – Jaelene Hinkle – Texas Tech (WNY Flash)
No. 8 – Arin Gilliland – Kentucky (Chicago Red Stars)
No. 9 – Danielle Colaprico – UVA (Chicago Red Stars)*
— Round 2 —
No. 10 – Kristin Grubka – Florida State (Sky Blue FC)
No. 11 – Sofia Huerta – Santa Clara (Chicago Red Stars)
No. 12 – Shea Groom – Texas A&M (FC Kansas City)
No. 13 – Megan Oyster – UCLA (Washington Spirit) # $
No. 14 – Jamia Fields – Florida State (Boston Breakers)
No. 15 – Havana Solaun – Florida (Seattle Reign FC)
No. 16 – Meghan Streight – Texas A&M (FC Kansas City)
No. 17 – Katelyn Rowland – UCLA (FC Kansas City)
No. 18 – Tatiana Coleman – Central Florida (WNY Flash)
— Round 3 —
No. 19 – Caprice Dydasco – UCLA (Washington Spirit) %
No. 20 – Samantha Lofton – James Madison (Boston Breakers)
No. 21 – Sabrina D’Angelo – South Carolina (Boston Breakers)
No. 22 – Daphne Corboz – Georgetown (Sky Blue FC)
No. 23 – Cara Walls – Wisconsin (Chicago Red Stars)
No. 24 – Bianca Brinson – Texas A&M (Boston Breakers)
No. 25 – Shade Pratt – Maryland (Sky Blue FC)
No. 26 – Jessica Ayers – Colorado College (FC Kansas City)
No. 27 – Nicole Setterlund – Wash. State (Chicago Red Stars)
— Round 4 —
No. 28 – Chioma Ubogagu – Stanford (Sky Blue FC)
No. 29 – Stephanie Verdoia – Seattle Univ. (Boston Breakers)
No. 30 – Whitney Church – Penn State (Washington Spirit)
No. 31 – Carleigh Williams – Central Florida (Houston Dash)
No. 32 – Rachel Tejada – Illinois State (Chicago Red Stars)
No. 33 – Bianca Calderone – Northeastern (Boston Breakers)
No. 34 – Lo’eau LaBonta – Stanford (Sky Blue FC)
No. 35 – Kaysie Clark – Missouri (FC Kansas City)
No. 36 – Kendall Romine – Stanford (Seattle Reign FC)