by TOM SLATER
Last year. Sky Blue FC hit the jackpot in the 2016 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft. Four picks led to four starters, including the NWSL Rookie of the Year in Penn State’s Raquel Rodriguez.
Can lightning strike twice?
Sky Blue will have plenty of picks — six over the first rounds. Sky Blue FC by virtue of some trades from a year ago and their sixth place finish wiLL have the fourth and 10th overall pick in the first round. They’ll also have three third-round picks — 23, 24 and 30 — to go along with the 34th pick in the final round.
All selections will be made on January 12 at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Convention in Los Angeles. The draft will start at 3 p.m. ET.
The NWSL today released the names of all players who have registered for the draft. The final list will be available 24 hours before the draft begins.
This year’s draft was thought to be among the top college drafts since the league began. But the lure of playing overseas may have made a mockery of those mock drafts.
Ashley Lawrence of West Virginia by way of Canada has already signed with Paris St. Germain. There are rumors that that Florida striker Savannah Jordan and West Virginia defender Kadiesha Buchanan are rumored to be going oversea. Only Jordan has registered for the draft. All three have been mentioned as top five picks in this year’s
With the potential defections, that moves several players up. Rose Lavelle of Wisconsin and Morgan Andrews of NCAA champ USC are the top two field players on the board. Both play in the midfield. Jane Campbell, the Stanford goalkeeper, could be the highest goalkeeper ever taken in the NWSL draft.
Sky Blue’s needs are not as dire as they were a year ago. A number of players retiring or playing elsewhere left the club with holes all over the pitch. The needs are more finessed this time around. Assuming that Christie Rampone stays for another year, an outside defender is the team’s most obvious need.
Rebecca Quinn of Duke and Stephanie Amack could be legitimate picks for Sky Blue in the first round.
In addition, coach Christy Holly inferred that there might be other avenues besides the college draft to pick up the next piece of the puzzle needed to vault Sky Blue into the NWSL playoffs.
New Jersey will be represented on draft day. Of the 148 currently registered, 13 played their club ball or high school ball in New Jersey.
Another — Taylor Lussi — is from Maryland but played at Princeton and could be a mid-round pick.
Some played for big schools like Rutgers’ Erica Murphy, Clemson’s Catrina Atanda, Penn State’s Nikolette Driesse and Ohio State’s Jilliam McVicker. They’ll be watching the draft with more than a cautious eye.
Then there’s the longshots from the Garden State: Maxine New from Division 3 Rowan University in Glassboro and Hamilton’s Sarah Ghaffoor of Chowan University, a small Division 2 squad from North Carolina. They probably won’t get drafted but they can dream, too.