W-League Standouts Highlight NWSL Draft
Former Rough Riders player Dunn selected No.1, five first round selections overall












W-League News Release

Friday, January 17, 2014

TAMPA, Fla. – Led by former Long Island Rough Riders forward Crystal Dunn, selected with the No. 1 overall pick by the Washington Spirit, former W-League standouts featured prominently in the 2014 National Women’s Soccer League Draft, held on Friday morning in conjunction with the NSCAA Convention in Philadelphia. Dunn led a group of five former W-League and W-20 players selected in the first round, and 17 overall, who will join the NWSL for its second season this spring.

Dunn was the second consecutive W-League alum taken with the No. 1 pick, following former LA Strikers player Zakiya Bywaters in 2013. Dunn’s selection continued the W-League’s history of helping develop top college players as they move toward the professional ranks. Sydney Leroux (No. 1, 2012 WPS Draft), Alex Morgan (No. 1, 2011 WPS Draft) and Tobin Heath (No. 1, 2010 WPS Draft) all preceded Dunn and Bywaters as top selections who arrived in the professional ranks with W-League experience.

Hayes was joined in being selected from the Rough Riders by Kim DeCesare, who was selected by the Boston Breakers with the 34th pick of the draft. DeCesare and Dunn were teammates in 2011, and the Duke defender made 26 appearances during her Rough Riders career.

Also selected in the first round was former W-20 standout Vanessa DiBernardo, who starred at the 2010 W-20 Championships for the Chicago Red 11. After a stellar college career at Illinois, she was selected with the No. 4 pick by the Chicago Red Stars. Former LA Blues defender Kassey Kallman was taken with the No. 5 pick by FC Kansas City and was one of two members of the Blues’ starting 11 for the 2013 W-League Championship Game to be selected, alongside Elizabeth Eddy, who was picked by the Sky Blue FC.

One of their opponents in that contest, Nkem Ezurike of the Laval Comets, was also taken in the first round with the No. 8 pick by Boston Breakers, while former New Jersey Wildcats standout Maya Hayes returned to her home state and Sky Blue FC with the No. 6 pick.

A pair of former W-League honorees will make the move to the top level of women’s soccer in North America, with 2012 All-Western Conference selection Michelle Pao of the LA Blues being taken with the 24th pick by Sky Blue FC, and 2013 All-League selection Kristen Hamilton of the Colorado Rapids Women being taken with the 36th pick by the Western New York Flash.

Other notable players to be selected include former LA Blues and Vancouver Whitecaps Women midfielder Jenna Richmond, who helped UCLA claim its first NCAA Championship this past fall, and former Colorado Rush goalkeeper Kelsey Wys, who helped Florida State reach the championship game before it fell against the Bruins. In addition, Molly Menchel made the jump from the Washington Spirit Reserves, for whom she made 16 appearances in two seasons, to the Spirit’s first team as she was selected with the No. 26 pick.