2016 NWSL College Draft Recap

2016 nwsl college draft
Photo courtesy of Cynthia Hobgood

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) held its fourth annual College Draft on Friday, January 15 at the Baltimore Convention Center. United States Women’s National Team player and former University of Virginia defender Emily Sonnett was selected No. 1 overall by the Portland Thorns FC, making it the second year in a row a Cavalier was taken first overall. The Houston Dash selected Morgan Brian first overall in 2015.

2016 NWSL College Draft Results

Here is the list of all 40 players drafted:

Round 1

  1. Emily Sonnett, Virginia – Portland Thorns FC
  2. Raquel Rodriguez, Penn State – Sky Blue FC^
  3. Christen Westphal, Florida – Boston Breakers*
  4. Carson Pickett, Florida State – Seattle Reign FC
  5. Cari Roccaro, Notre Dame – Houston Dash
  6. Rachel Daly, St. John’s – Houston Dash
  7. Cheyna Williams, Florida State – Washington Spirit
  8. Janine Beckie, Texas Tech – Houston Dash
  9. Michaela Hahn, Florida State – Western New York Flash
  10. Sam Witteman, California – Orlando Pride

^ Sky Blue FC acquired the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft, a natural first-round, and conditional fourth-round pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft from Portland in exchange for the rights to forward Nadia Nadim and the No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft as well as a natural second-round pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft.

* Portland traded the No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft, the No. 4 spot in the Allocation Ranking Order, and future considerations to Boston in exchange for the No. 1 position in the Allocation Ranking Order.

Round 2

  1. Makenzy Doniak, Virginia – Western New York Flash
  2. Cali Farquharson, Arizona State – Washington Spirit
  3. Leah Galton, Hofstra – Sky Blue FC
  4. Mallory Weber, Penn State – Western New York Flash
  5. Christina Burkenroad, Cal State Fullerton – Orlando Pride
  6. Katie Bowen, North Carolina – FC Kansas City
  7. Brittany Ratcliffe, Virgina – Boston Breakers
  8. Brianne Reed, Rutgers – FC Kansas City
  9. Katie Naughton, Notre Dame – Chicago Red Stars
  10. Alli Murphy, Texas Tech – Washington Spirit

Round 3

  1. McKenzie Berryhill, Arizona State – Portland Thorns
  2. Sarah Gorden, DePaul – Chicago Red Stars
  3. Erica Skroski, Rutgers – Sky Blue FC
  4. Laura Liedle, Stanford – Western New York Flash
  5. Paige Nielsen, North Carolina – Seattle Reign FC
  6. Britt Eckerstrom, Penn State – Western New York Flash
  7. Abby Smith, Texas – Boston Breakers*
  8. Alexa Newfield, North Carolina – FC Kansas City
  9. Caroline Casey, William & Mary – Sky Blue FC^
  10. Summer Green, North Carolina – Seattle Reign FC

* Boston acquired the No. 27 overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft from Chicago in exchange for the No. 32 and No. 35 overall picks in the 2016 NWSL College Draft.

^ Sky Blue acquired the No. 29 overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft from Chicago in exchange for the No. 33 and No. 36 overall picks in the 2016 NWSL College Draft.

Round 4

  1. Dani Weatherholt, Santa Clara – Orlando Pride
  2. Courtney Raetzman, Kentucky – Chicago Red Stars
  3. Jannelle Flaws, Illinois – Chicago Red Stars
  4. Madalyn Schiffel, U. San Francisco – Washington Spirit
  5. Adrienne Jordan, Northern Colorado – Chicago Red Stars
  6. Candace Johnson, Missouri – Chicago Red Stars
  7. Kara Wilson, Duke – Washington Spirit
  8. Alex Arlitt, LSU – FC Kansas City
  9. Ashleigh Ellenwood, Arkansas – Chicago Red Stars
  10. Lindsey Luke, Utah – Seattle Reign FC

On the Record

Raquel Rodriguez on more players from her native Costa Rica turning professional:

raquel rodriguez at the 2016 nwsl college draft“Right now, maybe because of the World Cup, there is so much awareness [of Women’s Soccer], and my hope is to be that role model where in the past, my generation did not have growing up and I hope that this grows the game.”

Christen Westphal on what she can bring to Boston:

christen westphal at the 2016 nwsl college draft“I was able to be a part of both the attack and defense while in Florida. I definitely think that I can bring that to Boston and be able to not just be effective on defense but be able to help offensively as well.”

Can we still expect to see you score from set pieces?

“Absolutely.” [laughs]

Rachel Daly on setting the precedent for more college players from England declaring for the NWSL Draft:

Rachel Daly at the 2016 NWSL College Draft“I think so. I hope so. I think there is a lot of talent in England and I would hope they would come and do what I did and follow their career in education and then play and take it on to the net level.”


Houston Dash head coach Randy Waldrum on his three picks:

“Our discussions led to being that [Cari] Roccaro was one of the best players coming out of the draft. She played for me at Notre Dame so I know her very well and we knew that she had an injury, so the discussion was is she good enough to wait and rehab knowing that we would miss her for a good portion of the season with her injury. And yes, she is the long-term answer for us at center back.”

Brianne Reed on what pushed Rutgers to the College Cup this year:

“This program at Rutgers has been building over the years and finally we got to a good point. As sad as I am to leave, I am happy to leave where we are because I know we are going to keep working and getting better from there.”

New Sky Blue head coach Christy Holly on adding Caroline Casey to the team’s existing goalkeeping tandem:

“[Caroline’s] performances in the last year show how much improvement she has made and I think we are very fortunate that we have acquired her. When I spoke to her before we drafted her, we are not looking for her as a number two [goalkeeper], we are looking for a player who is going to push for the number one. We want her to push Brittany Cameron [current Sky Blue goalkeeper] to become better but we want her to be ready in case [Cameron] gets injured or her form slips.”