The quasi dark side of RBNY fandom.
The annual NSCAA Convention was the place to be on Friday, as it was home to the first NWSL college draft. The Chicago Red Stars opened the day with a surprising first pick of Zakiya Bywaters from UCLA. Sky Blue would have the fourth pick and chose Lindsi Lisonsbee-Cutshall from BYU. Cutshall was one of the top collegiate defenders this season and earned herself the 2012 West Coast Conference Player of the Year award.
Head coach Jim Gabarra shared his thoughts on the first round pick with Pete Huryk: “Lindsi is a perfect fit for us. [She has] really good character, good leadership abilities, and is physically a presence.”
New Jersey’s second pick was Kendall Johnson from the University of Portland. Johnson is currently a member of the U-23 WNT. Gabarra was very happy that he was able to get his first two picks, saying that if Lindsi had been drafted by another team, Kendall was his next choice.
Sky Blue took Ashley Baker in the third round. Baker is a stand-out goalkeeper from the University of Georgia who was called into an England senior team camp this past December.
Becky Kaplan was the final pick of the day for Sky Blue. Kaplan is a star forward from the University of Maryland. She led her team in goals this season, including four game-winners.
Although Sky Blue only has seven players signed so far, we can already see the team starting to come together. Sophie Schmidt, Becky Kaplan, and Kendall Johnson are the beginnings of a dangerous offense this season. And with the leadership of Christie Rampone and Jill Loyden in the back, Cutshall and Baker will be training with the best and forming a solid defense.
Gabarra also spoke of Kelley O’Hara, saying it’s comforting knowing that she can play anywhere she’s put, especially now that she has defensive experience from the national team. However, it looks like she’s switching to the offensive side of things this season.
“I’m excited to have her playing for us,” Gabarra said, “I think she’s a real dynamic, versatile player and we’ll hopefully see her get back to her attacking and goalscoring abilities.”
Sky Blue still has a ways to go in the roster-building process. Free-agency is the next step. Not much information has been given at this time but we should know soon how it will be playing out.
You can find the full draft results here.