As the National Women’s Soccer League prepares for an historic 5th college draft, Backline Soccer will be taking a look back at the previous four drafts and how each pick panned out.
Part 3 in our series focuses on 2015.
14. Jamia Fields (F) – Florida State
Fields was not offered a contract by Boston but signed with Western New York for 2015, making 10 appearances for the Flash. She was selected by Orlando in the 2015 Expansion Draft and recorded one assist in her 12 appearances for the Pride.
20. Sam Lofton (D) – James Madison
Lofton did not sign with Boston, but made three appearances for Portland as an amateur in 2016.
24. Bianca Brinson (F) – Texas A&M
Brinson did not make the roster.
29. Stephanie Verdoia (F) – Seattle
Verdoia’s first two seasons with Boston saw her used mostly as a sub with no points in her 18 career appearances for the Breakers.
33. Bianca Calderone (D) – Northeastern
Calderone did not make the roster.
Chicago Red Stars
5. Stephanie McCaffrey (F) – Boston College
McCaffrey was traded to Boston following her selection by Chicago and scored three goals for the Breakers in 2015, earning herself a call-up to the NT where she scored in her international debut. After a lackluster first-half in 2016, where she was relegated to the bench midseason while Boston struggled for goals, McCaffrey was re-acquired by Chicago and scored the game-winner in her first start for the Red Stars.
8. Arin Gilliland (D) – Kentucky
In 41 matches played over her first two seasons, Gilliland quickly made her mark on the Chicago backline, helping spark the Red Stars offense with her brilliant attacking runs and locking down the right side of the field on defense. She was one of several NWSL players to earn their first call-up to the USWNT in October of 2016. Gilliland is currently on loan to Newcastle Jets in the Australian W-League.
9. Danielle Colaprico (M) – Virginia
The Mini-Fortress (shoutout to @Sand_Herrera) of the talented Chicago midfield, Colaprico’s strong performances at DM saw her voted the 2015 Rookie of the Year, and earned her the first of several NT call-ups in December of 2015. Colaprico is currently on loan to Adelaide United in the Australian W-League.
11. Sofia Huerta (F) – Santa Clara
Huerta started her rookie season with a bang, scoring six goals before the World Cup break, and helped Chicago climb to the top of the table. While the second half of 2015 and the first half of 2016 were not as productive for her, she came alive at the end of 2016 and finished her second season with seven goals. Huerta is currently on loan to Adelaide United in the Australian W-League.
23. Cara Walls (F) – Wisconsin
Walls’ first 2 seasons with Chicago saw her used mostly as a sub in 2015 and a squad rotation player in 2016.
27. Nicole Setterlund (M) – Washington State
Setterlund retired from soccer following her college career.
32. Rachel Tejada (F) – Illinois State
Tejada made only two appearances as an amateur for Chicago in 2015 and did not return for 2016.
FC Kansas City
12. Shea Groom (F) – Texas A&M
Mostly a backup behind Amy Rodriguez in 2015, Groom still managed to score four goals in 13 games despite suffering a foot injury. With the departure of several key players in 2016, Groom’s eight goals helped carry an anemic Kansas City offense to a respectable 6th place finish.
16. Meghan Lisenby (D) – Texas A&M
Lisenby made only five sub appearances for Kansas City in 2015 and retired from soccer after the season.
17. Katelyn Rowland (GK) – UCLA
Signed as a backup to Nicole Barnhart, Rowland made only three appearances for Kansas City in 2015. She was acquired by Western New York in 2016 following an injury to Sabrina D’Angelo and played six times for the Flash. Rowland is currently on loan to Newcastle Jets in the Australian W-League.
26. Jessica Ayers (M) – Colorado College
Ayers did not make the roster.
35. Kaysie Clark (M) – Missouri
Clark made only one appearance for Kansas City as an amateur in 2015 and did not return for 2016.
1. Morgan Brian (M) – Virginia
Brian produced a solid rookie season in 2015, tallying three assists for Houston in a World Cup-shortened year to help the Dash rise to a mid-table finish. But minor injuries and further NT commitments caused her form to fall in 2016, as she failed to register a single point.
31. Carleigh Williams (D) – Central Florida
Williams made only two appearances for Houston in 2015 and was waived by the club midseason.
Portland Thorns FC
Portland made no selections in the 2015 college draft.
Seattle Reign FC
15. Havana Solaun (M/F) – Florida
Solaun missed all of 2015 after an ankle injury in preseason, and struggled to find playing time among the Reign’s well-established midfield in 2016. However, she did tally six appearances for the Reign in her sophomore season, and was traded to Washington in November 2016.
36. Kendall Romine (D) – Stanford
Romine did not make the roster.
Sky Blue FC
2. Sarah Killion (M) – UCLA
In her first two NWSL seasons (sandwiched around an off-season loan to Adelaide United in the Australian W-League), Killion became a consistent presence at DM in the Sky Blue midfield, and scored three penalty goals for the Jersey side in 2016.
10. Kristin Grubka (D) – Florida State
Grubka had a decent season for Sky Blue in 2015, missing only a handful of matches. Despite opening the 2016 season on the bench, Grubka was slotted into the backline when the team was hit hard with international departures for the Rio Olympics, and kept her spot for the rest of the season.
22. Daphne Corboz (M) – Georgetown
Corboz elected to sign with Manchester City in the FAWSL.
25. Shade Pratt (D) – Maryland
Pratt did not sign with Sky Blue, but made one appearance for the club as an amateur in 2015 and played five matches as an amateur for Portland in 2016.
28. Chioma Ubogagu (F) – Stanford
Ubogagu signed with Arsenal in the FAWSL for 2015, but returned to the NWSL for 2016 after a trade to Houston, where she tallied one goal and one assist in 15 matches for the Dash.
34. Lo’eau LaBonta (F) – Stanford
LaBonta made six sub appearances for Sky Blue in 2015 but was waived after the World Cup. She signed with Kansas City in 2016.
13. Megan Oyster (D) – UCLA
The second-ever rookie to play every minute of every game in 2015, Oyster slumped in her sophomore year and was benched toward the end of the season. She was traded to Boston in November of 2016 and is currently in her second season on loan to the Newcastle Jets in the Australian W-League.
19. Caprice Dydasco (D) – UCLA
After a rookie season spent mostly on the bench for Washington, Dydasco went on loan in the off-season to Newcastle Jets in the Australian W-League, and claimed a starting spot on the Spirit backline in 2016. During the NWSL championship match, Dydasco suffered an ACL injury and is expected to miss most of the 2017 season.
30. Whitney Church (D) – Penn State
Church earned significant playing time in 2015 due to the absences of international players for the World Cup, making 16 appearances for the Spirit. While she started 2016 on the bench, the Olympic departures saw her inserted into the lineup, and she remained a starter for the rest of the season.
Western New York Flash
3. Abby Dahlkemper (D) – UCLA
Although Dahlkemper played every match for Western New York in 2015, she had perhaps the weakest season of the Flash’s draft class, and was unable to settle into one position. Following an off-season loan spell at Adelaide United in the Australian W-League, Dahlkemper returned to WNY in 2016 and had a much improved performance, playing every minute of every game at CB. She was rewarded for a strong season with a USWNT call-up, and made her international debut in October of 2016.
4. Samantha Mewis (M) – UCLA
Mewis enjoyed a good rookie season in 2015, tying for the team-lead in goals and assists with four apiece and was a finalist for Rookie of the Year. She had an even better season in 2016, despite missing several games for international duties, and helped the Flash return to the postseason, scoring in both playoff games.
6. Lynn Williams (F) – Pepperdine
While Williams had an average season in 2015 and was hampered by injury, she broke out in 2016, scoring 11 goals to win the Golden Boot, and was awarded the Most Valuable Player. Her stellar season earned her a NT call-up in October of 2016, where she scored a mere 49 seconds into her NT debut, setting a new team record.
7. Jaelene Hinkle (D) – Texas Tech
One of the few standout players for Western New York in 2015, Hinkle became the first rookie in league history to play every minute of every game, beating out fellow rookie Megan Oyster by one day. Her performances for the Flash earned her the first of several NT call-ups in October of 2015. Despite missing a few matches with minor injuries and international duties in 2016, Hinkle produced a solid sophomore season for WNY.
18. Tatiana Coleman (F) – Central Florida
Coleman elected to sign with Juvisy in France.
21. Sabrina D’Angelo (GK) – South Carolina
Despite missing most of 2015 and half of 2016 with an injury and then international duty, D’Angelo claimed the starting spot for Western New York when healthy and produced solid performances in her 20 appearances. Her biggest moment came in the 2016 championship match where she stopped 3 penalty shots from Washington in a shootout and was awarded the MVP of the final.
The 2015 draft was projected to be one of the strongest draft classes since the famed class of 2010 in WPS, and it did not disappoint. All nine players taken in the first round have received at least one NT call-up, and by the end of 2016, six of them earned caps for the USWNT.
This was also the first year where we saw teams use their selections on players that filled a particular need rather than just picking the best player available, and it paid off for most of the clubs.
Winner: Western New York Flash
Another very close call for draft winner between the Flash and the Red Stars, but the risk taken by the WNY front office to dismantle the previous season’s roster and bet on young talent paid off with a championship in 2016, which gave them the edge over Chicago here.
Honorable Mention: Chicago Red Stars.
Loser: Boston Breakers
Strong consideration was given to both Portland and Seattle, but while Portland declined to draft any players at all, Boston had multiple selections with no real payoff, sending them to the top of the loser list.
Dishonorable Mention: (tie) Seattle Reign FC and Portland Thorns FC.