Chris’ 2018 NWSL Draft Big Board Top 50 – Sullivan Still #1

Positional Top Fives

GK

1. Casey Murphy – Rutgers
2. Cassie Miller – Florida State
3. Emily Boyd – Cal
4. Caitlyn Clem – Wisconsin
5. Anna Maddox – Samford

DEF

1. Jessie Scarpa – North Carolina
2. Emma Koivisto – Florida State
3. Brittany Basinger – Penn State
4. Hailey Harbison – Pepperdine
5. Michaela Abam – West Virginia

MF

1. Andi Sullivan – Stanford
2. Emily Ogle – Penn State
3. Mikaela Harvey – Texas A&M
4. Rachel Corboz – Georgetown
5. Gabby Seiler – Florida

FW

1. Frannie Crouse – Penn State
2. Megan Schafer – Penn State
3. Jorian Baucom – LSU
4. Ani Sarkisian – Michigan
5. Savannah McCaskill – South Carolina

Overall Top 50

1. Andi Sullivan – MF (DMC), D (CB) – Stanford

This shouldn’t shock anyone with even a remote sense of the college game, as Sullivan would probably get consideration as the #1 overall pick in next year’s draft were she in it. It’s one thing to come into DI with such monumental expectations as Sullivan did, it’s quite another to exceed those expectations as Sullivan certainly has. A former captain of the U.S. U20s, Sullivan was immediately one of the nation’s best in 2014 and a consensus Freshman of the Year as she helped Stanford to another successful season. She took it to another level this past season, winning first team All-America honors and ending up as a Hermann Trophy semi-finalist and will likely be a contender for the award her final two years on the farm as well. Has proven to be durable on the pitch and clutch for the Card as well, with some big goals for the club last year from her deep midfielder role. Can absolutely crush a ball and is a threat to rifle home shots from distance any time she gets a clear window to goal. Is savvy enough to play in a deep role in midfield or even at center-back, as she’s done with Stanford. It’s likely a question of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ Sullivan gets called up to the full USWNT, and she’ll be hard to displace at the top of this list come draft day in 2018.

2. Jessie Scarpa – D (CB), F (CF) – North Carolina

Scarpa is one of many players in this class with a multitude of options as to where they might play at the next level after having featured in different positions in her two seasons thus far as one of UNC’s brightest young prospects. While still recovering from injury for much of her freshman year, Scarpa still shined quite brightly as a center-back for the Heels and was hardly overawed by the fierce competition of the ACC. But Scarpa tried a different role as a sophomore, fully healthy again, moving into a center forward role and leading the line in both a 3-4-3 and 4-2-3-1 for the Tar Heels. Eight goals and eight assists was an impressive return considering Scarpa had played a completely different role a season earlier, and it doesn’t seem too likely that Scarpa will be moving back to the backline for UNC any time soon, especially considering the scoring woes for the Heels otherwise. Efficiency numbers are a concern, but that’ll probably be reevaluated after another year of leading the line. A mainstay with the U20s for the U.S. during the current cycle, it would be a shock if Scarpa didn’t get the call for the final squad, and given some of the deficiencies of the current squad, the Tar Heel star may need to shine brightly for the U.S. to find glory in Oceania this Fall.

3. Frannie Crouse – F (CF, LF), MF (AML) – Penn State

Take the time to look up and down this list, and you’ll see that there just aren’t a lot of A-level forwards in this draft class, meaning someone like Crouse is going to rise to the top rather easily given her two seasons at PSU thus far. Crouse signed on to the college scene with a flourish in 2014, netting ten times on solid efficiency numbers and improved to eleven goals this past season while more than tripling her assist total with seven. Crouse’s efficiency numbers did dip considerably, as she took twenty-two more shots as a sophomore, but her shot on goal percentage did rise. More importantly, Crouse saved those goals for the biggest matches and did most of her damage against PSU’s toughest opponents in 2015, underlining her ability to get it done in the clutch. Coaches rave about Crouse’s workrate, and her closing speed to the ball is almost frightening at times. 2016 will be a big test for Crouse, as many of her teammates from last year’s national title winning team will be at the U20 World Cup, meaning the forward will have to carry her team on her back at times given the upheaval. If she can manage it, Crouse could all but solidify a spot near the top of the board going into her senior season.

4. Emily Ogle – MF (MC, AMC) – Penn State

The 2014 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and likely member of the 2016 U20 World Cup team for the U.S., Ogle is another Penn State prospect who has played a vital role in the glories of the past two seasons, including 2015’s title winning campaign. Ogle played a bit of a deeper role in a 4-2-3-1 as a sophomore but still managed to make it work for her, netting seven goals on thirty-one shots and putting up a sterling 54.8% SOG mark, which is quite the impressive pair of stats for a central midfielder. Ogle was an absolute workhorse in the midfield last season, starting all twenty-seven matches and scarcely coming out for the national champion Nittany Lions. Proved to be a clutch player as well, netting four goals in the NCAA Tournament, including the winner in the quarterfinal against West Virginia. Perhaps overshadowed by Raquel Rodriguez last year in the center of the park, Ogle could be the center of attention the next time she steps foot on the pitch for PSU. Which might be in 2017, as the Ohio native, as stated above, figures to be in Papua New Guinea for the U20 World Cup this season for the U.S.

5. Emma Koivisto – D (RB, CB) – Florida State

Full Finnish international is already a key component to the overall growth of women’s footy in her homeland as a part of the full WNT. Already in double digits in caps for Finland, Koivisto will be key for the country’s hopes of qualifying for UEFA EURO 2017 next Summer, but she’s already proven to be a major influence in Tallahassee as well in her two seasons with the Seminoles. Another in the long line of marauding international full-backs that have come through the FSU program like France’s Ines Jaurena, Koivisto won a starting spot as a rookie here right away and hasn’t looked back, missing time only for international call-ups for qualifiers for Finland. Didn’t quite match the offensive statistics that she put up as a rookie but was part of a backline that was just as stout as it had been in the past few years. As is the case with almost every international that comes through Tallahassee, the question is whether Koivisto will stay on these shores or chase the money in Europe. Either way, there shouldn’t be any shortage of suitors for the Finnish full-back.

6. Mikaela Harvey – MF/F (AMC) – Texas A&M

Your typical Texas A&M attacking prospect that’s come out of the program over the past half-decade or so, i.e. talented and oh so polarizing. Few can argue with Harvey’s talent. It took a while for her to grow into it after an up and down rookie season, but the Texan was one of the main reasons her side didn’t drop off a cliff quality-wise in 2015 after seeing almost all of its starting core graduate after 2014’s College Cup season. Seven goals and four assists is just the tip of the iceberg as far as Harvey’s contributions to the club’s offense is concerned, as she kept things flowing from the midfield in most cases in spite of a young and sometimes inconsistent supporting cast. But Harvey’s also got a l’enfant terrible streak within that inevitably draws comparisons, fair or unfair, with another Aggie great and NWSL agitator, Shea Groom. Was seemingly in the mix for the U20 World Cup for a while but has slipped off the radar recently. If she stays with A&M in the fall, they’ll be College Cup contenders, and Harvey could be the orchestrator of that deep postseason run.

7. Casey Murphy – GK – Rutgers

Presumptive #1 for the U.S. U20s at this year’s upcoming U20 World Cup could be pushed back into the 2019 class if she redshirts and exhausts her eligibility or simply be the top GK taken in this class if she declares after four years with the Scarlet Knights. It’s been a rapid rise for Murphy, who came to Rutgers as a strong prospect but one who few probably envisioned leading her side to the College Cup after just two seasons in between the pipes for the Big Ten side. Murphy was a bit late to the party at youth international level at U20 level but looks likely to battle Penn State’s Rose Chandler for the starting spot for the U.S. side at this Fall’s U20 World Cup. A massive, imposing presence in goal at 6’0”, Murphy has the size and range pro clubs are looking for in their netminders at the next level. Has occasionally been rattled after giving up the rare bad goal at college level, but the good has far outweighed the bad for Murphy thus far, with the New Jersey native in the box seat to be the #1 GK taken in this class.

8. Rachel Corboz – MF/F (RF) – Georgetown

Had some enormous shoes to fill when you consider her sister Daphne was an All-American for the Hoyas who also happens to be ripping things up with Manchester City in England right now. But the younger Corboz is proving to be an elite prospect herself after two brilliant seasons to being her Georgetown career. Corboz seems to be a bit more versatile than her sister, having lined up on the frontline as a winger, though she can also function as the playmaker in midfield as well. She was fantastic in the midfield last season as a sophomore, winning league Midfielder of the Year honors, as well as being named a third team All-American by season’s end. Ten goals (three from the spot) and eight assists showed that Corboz is equally comfortable finishing or creating goals for the Hoyas, and the New Jersey native may yet eclipse her sister’s accomplishments when all is said and done. Like Daphne, Rachel Corboz also has Europe open to her with her French heritage, which could scare some domestic suitors off. If she’s persuaded to stay on these shores though, a club in the NWSL should have a midfield gem to add to their ranks.

9. Cassie Miller – GK – Florida State

Neck and neck with Rutgers’ Casey Murphy for top billing in this class of goalkeepers, Miller was stunningly assured in between the pipes as a redshirt freshman in 2014 while backstopping the Noles to a national title. Florida State has been churning out professional level goalkeepers with regularity over the past 5-10 years under Mark Krikorian’s watch, so it’s hardly a surprise that Miller is developing into another major prospect, but it is perhaps surprising that she’s been able to soar so high after just two seasons. The $64,000 question with Florida State goalkeepers though is whether playing behind such a perennially stout backline tends to make the Noles’ netminders look much better than they are or whether having a keeper like Miller in between the pipes makes the backline look like superstars. Has size and presence in the goal, and we’ll likely find out much more as she continues to develop over the next two seasons. On paper though, Miller looks like a keeper that should be a selection in the first few rounds of this class.

10. Brittany Basinger – D (LB) – Penn State

Basinger’s endured a roller coaster college career to this point, having established herself as one of the nation’s most promising left-backs as a freshman for the perennial powerhouse Nittany Lions as a rookie. It’s been considerably rockier since then, as Basinger made the 2014 U20 Women’s World Cup team but looked a player well out of her depth in a brief cameo during that fateful competition and would promptly miss the entire 2014 season through injury, perhaps explaining those torrid displays in Canada. Back healthy again last season, Basinger was back to being a rock on the backline for the national champions, starting all twenty-seven matches and providing some much needed experience to a very young backline that held up well enough to bring home the club’s first title. Basinger was rewarded for her comeback season with a recall to the U.S. U23 team in the offseason and again looks like an elite prospect. With left-backs at such a premium at this level, Basinger could yet work her way into discussion as a first round pick come the 2018 draft.

11. Hailey Harbison – D (RB) – Pepperdine

Harbison stands a good chance of being the next Wave to make it big at the next level, following in the footsteps of ex-pat Michelle Pao and WNY Flash forward Lynn Williams, who used their tenure with the Waves as a springboard to the pros. The Californian made a massive impact in her first season here in 2014, starting every match and winning WCC Freshman of the Year honors for the Waves at right-back. The rookie campaign was enough to see Harbison get into the U20 World Cup mix for the U.S., and though she’s not a favorite to end up on the final roster, that she’s even in the conversation is a pretty good example of how much Harbison has grown in her first two years here. Harbison didn’t quite match last year’s superb debut, but she was still one of the WCC’s best defenders, and quality full-backs at the next level are always in high demand. Harbison played a little in the attack this season as well, but her future at pro level likely rests at full-back, with there being a reasonable chance that she’s the first outside back off the board come draft day in a few years’ time.

12. Michaela Abam – F (CF), D (CB), MF (AMC) – West Virginia

Abam might be the hardest player on the board to project, as she’s played extensively at center-back at youth international level but has been used as one of WVU’s most effective attacking weapons for her two seasons in Morgantown. Despite being a long-time member of the U.S. youth teams at lower levels, Abam’s been off the radar for the U20 team for a while, which surely has to raise a few eyebrows considering the lack of truly elite talent in this cycle. Abam’s done little wrong in two years with West Virginia and has combined with the likes of Ashley Lawrence to give the Mountaineers an attack capable of running opposing teams into the ground. As was the case after her rookie year, the main question is if Abam’s going to efficient enough to play in attack at the next level, as she needed over a hundred shots to score her twelve goals last year. Dig a little deeper, and you realize that half of that total came against the likes of Villanova and Longwood, raising more questions of whether Abam can be consistent against top opposition. Positional worries aside, Abam’s still got a ton of upside, it’s just finding the right fit to get the most out of her at pro level.

13. Megan Schafer – F (CF), MF (CM, AMC) – Penn State

A big part of PSU’s rise to national champions this past season was the breakout year enjoyed by Schafer, who doubled her goal total from her rookie season and did it on amazing efficiency numbers, needing just forty-seven shots to score thirteen times in 2015. Schafer had had a solid rookie season, but few could have anticipated her to explode last season and lead the line for PSU in such an effective manner. Also capable of playing in attacking midfield, Schafer was prone to bursts of brilliance last year and scored more than one stunner in the run-up to the Nittany Lions’ title triumph. The big question with Schafer though is her ability to get it done against the elite. Schafer was held off the board against the likes of Duke (twice), West Virginia (twice), and Rutgers (three times), which raises some major questions going forward. The College Cup Houdini act is particularly concerning, as Schafer didn’t register a single shot in either of the club’s two semi-final wins. If Schafer can prove she can get it done against the creme de la creme, she could be a first round pick down the line in this class.

14. Jorian Baucom – F (CF) – LSU

Streaky forward who’s brutally effective as a battering ram leading the line for the Bayou Bengals. Looked like a player who might be one of the nation’s best forwards for the first half of last season, scoring eleven goals in the club’s eleven matches, including scoring in six straight at one point. But Baucom wilted late, as she scored just four goals in LSU’s last twelve matches, including putting just two shots on goal in the team’s three postseason matches in 2015. A straight ahead center forward who tries to overpower center-backs with her power and pace, Baucom probably has to land with the right team at the next level to truly be a difference maker. Consistency is the thing that’s separating Baucom from the elite in this class, as her efficiency numbers and overall record against top teams are quite good. Can be ill-disciplined at times, as she picked up six bookings last year, with the fifth causing a one match ban in a key showdown against Missouri (which LSU won). Big season ahead to prove she’s a talent worthy of a spot in the first half of this draft.

15. Gabby Seiler – MF (AMC) – Florida

Made some serious waves (perhaps controversial ones) by transferring from Georgia to arch-rivals Florida after the 2014 season. Ironically, the transfer may have significantly boosted Seiler’s pro prospects, as being forced to redshirt in 2015 pushed her back from the loaded 2017 class to the significantly less loaded 2018 class. Was not particularly impressive as a freshman before breaking out in a major way in 2014, scoring nine goals and adding nine assists as one of the SEC’s most dynamic midfield threats. Shows brilliant skill on the ball at times but can also be a serious ball stopper, which makes her a less than sure fit for Florida’s pass heavy attack. Gators are spoilt for choice with attacking midfielders, and you wonder how Seiler and fellow midfield transfer Parker Roberts (among others) are going to be able to co-exist with a limited amount of opportunities to shine. Rust could be difficult to knock off at first after a year away, so it might take something special to keep rising on this board before next year.

16. Ani Sarkisian – F (CF), CM (AMC) – Michigan

One of the latest, and perhaps soon to be one of the greatest, of the long line of Florida State ex-pats to have a much more successful time of it after transferring from the powerhouse Seminoles program. Sarkisian redshirted as a true freshman at FSU in 2013 before moving to the Wolverines a season later and shining in her new home. Four goals was a solid haul on paper, but Sarkisian buttressed that scoring total with a whopping twelve assists, underlining her importance to the Michigan attack. She couldn’t quite match that total as a sophomore, netting just three assists, though she compensated by increasing her goals tally to seven. Sarkisian’s efficiency numbers weren’t great, so it remains to be seen if she’s better suited for a true center forward role or as an attacking midfielder, but if she maintains the form of the past two years, the New Jersey native should find a home somewhere at the next level. Michigan’s been hard done by in missing the last two NCAA Tournaments, so getting to the Big Dance this year (and next) could be key in showing what Sarkisian can do against the very best in competition.

17. Savannah McCaskill – F (CF, RF), D (FB) – South Carolina

McCaskill doesn’t overwhelm opponents physically, but all she’s done in two years with South Carolina is produce, much to the delight of Gamecocks’ supporters. The SEC Freshman of the Year award in 2014 after five goals and five assists may have been a tad generous, but few likely were debating McCaskill’s merits as one of the SEC’s elite after a dominant sophomore season that saw her score ten goals and add nine assists, making her one of the nation’s preeminent dual threats. McCaskill’s efficiency numbers and record against top teams is pretty solid across the board, though a handful more goals could push her up definitively towards the early rounds of this draft class. McCaskill’s not big enough to lead a frontline as a center-forward in all likelihood, making her excellent performances as a full-back in the defunct W-League even more important to her pro prospects. I’m not sure if McCaskill’s going to make it as a starter at the next level, but I do think she could be a great instant injection of offensive energy off the bench for somebody.

18. Maddie Elliston – D (RB) – Penn State

Another top prospect from Penn State, Elliston was touted as a top defender for the freshman class of 2014 and immediately fulfilled much of that promise, stepping in at right-back right away for the Nittany Lions and playing like one of the best defenders in the Big Ten and as one of the best rookie full-backs in the nation. Elliston’s sophomore season was nowhere near as smooth in the beginning, as the Nebraska native found herself sidelined until late September with a serious injury and only made seven starts on the season, as fellow youngster Ellie Jean shined in her place. Elliston would be fully incorporated into the lineup by season’s end though, and Elliston’s play at right-back was key for PSU lifting the trophy at last. A big question is how Erica Dambach is going to incorporate both Elliston and Jean into the same lineup with both best served as right-backs. It might be a question put off for another season, as Elliston looks likely for the U20 World Cup roster, which would equal a redshirt, pushing the talented full-back back into the next draft class in all likelihood.

19. Imani Dorsey – MF (LM, MC), F (LF, CF) – Duke

Highly touted player from the youth ranks was thought of as a big difference maker upon signing with Duke, but it was hard for her to really make the biggest impact considering the Blue Devils’ struggles in her freshman season. Dorsey herself showed flashes of real potential but wasn’t the offensive dynamo some may have expected when she signed. Being the final W-League Rookie of the Year in 2015 after that freshman season after leading the Spirit reserves to a title was a testament to how talented Dorsey really is and raised the bar of expectations that much more going into 2015. Dorsey made more of a dent on the stat sheet with five goals, including a huge game winner against North Carolina, but much of her other scoring was done against the dregs of Duke’s schedule. Injury threatened to curtail her NCAA Tournament, but Dorsey was able to return for the end of Duke’s run to the national final. Dorsey doesn’t score enough to be a team’s center forward at the next level, but she does make things happen and might be a good field stretcher in the pros. I worry about production, but like Jamia Fields from a few years back, I think Dorsey’s contributions stretch beyond raw stats.

20. Annia Mejia – D (CB) – Cal

It’s been a whirlwind two years for Mejia, who has gone from budding star at Cal and with the U.S. youth teams to full international for Mexico and potentially the nation’s starting center-back come the 2019 Women’s World Cup if El Tri qualifies. Mejia had gotten attention from the U.S. U20 squad after shining as one of the nation’s best rookie defenders in 2014 and was poached by the full Mexican squad soon after, marking one of the biggest coups for the side in a while considering how impressive Mejia had looked over the past few years. At club level, Mejia couldn’t quite match her eye-catching rookie season but still was strong for one of the Pac-12’s better defenses and should again be a key anchor for the Golden Bears for her final two years. At international level, Mejia’s already being given as many minutes as she can handle at center-back, and it’s clear she’ll be key in the rebuilding efforts for the beleaguered nation under new management. If Cal can live up to their potential with Mejia shining, she could rise into the first few rounds as a prospect for the draft.

21. Gabi Stoian – F (LF, CF) – Arizona

Stoian’s rise has been a major part of why the Wildcats have become relevant in the Pac-12 after so many years of wandering in the wilderness. The Arizona forward made a stunning entrance into the college scene in 2014, netting thirteen goals as a rookie which was tied for the second best total in a single-season while also adding seven assists. She wasn’t able to match that pace as a sophomore, as injury robbed her of four matches and perhaps rendered her less effective in others. Stain did still score six goals and added to her reputation as an offensive catalyst with eight assists in her sophomore season and now looks all but certain to shatter Arizona’s offensive record book if she stays healthy. Efficiency numbers were really bad though, with just five non-penalty goals on fifty-eight shots and a 44.1% SOG mark. It’s a crossroads year for Stoian, as if she gets back to her freshman form, she’s a Top 15 talent. If not, she could slip towards the later rounds.

22. Nadia Gomes – F (LF) – BYU

Portugal youth international had a much needed breakout season as a sophomore when the club needed some youngsters to step up after injury to Ashley Hatch. After a solid showing as a rookie, Gomes ended up winning WCC Player of the Year honors following a big second season in Provo, finishing with nine goals overall and five game winners for the Cougars on the season. Efficiency numbers, like with most BYU attackers, aren’t that great in the club’s shoot first style, but they aren’t as bad as they could be. I suspect the biggest criticism on Gomes would be that most of her goals came against some of the weaker teams the Cougars played in 2015, with the only team she scored against that made the NCAA Tournament being Loyola Marymount, and even that was a close call. It will be interesting to see how Gomes functions with Ashley Hatch healthy and in the lineup again, but regardless, there’s room to move up in this class given the lack of elite forwards on paper.

23. Sabrina Flores – D (LB), MF (LM) – Notre Dame

Multi-talented American youth international is the more well known of the Flores sisters, with sister Monica a player to watch for the Mexican international setup. Flores looks to be all but a certainty to make the U20 World Cup roster for the U.S. after two very promising seasons with Notre Dame and after impressing for the U.S. U20s at the qualifiers for the U20 World Cup this past December. Flores played as a left-back as a rookie and was highly promising there, starting twenty-two games before moving up in the formation to a winger role and took to said position change very well indeed. Three goals and six assists was an impressive return considering the position change, and it stands to reason that Flores will be a key part of the offense going forward for Notre Dame as they try to get back on top of the ACC. Flores’ role as a pro remains up in the air, but her versatility and performances thus far should ensure she gets a shot somewhere at the next level.

24. Alexa Ben – MF/F (LF) – DePaul

It was never going to be possible for either DePaul or Ben to match their amazing 2014 season, when the latter broke the school’s single-season assist record as a rookie and helped lead the club to the best year in club history behind her nine goals and eleven assists. The Blue Demons took a step backward last season, and so did Ben, though she was still one of the Big East’s best players as a sophomore. Four goals and seven assists was a slightly disappointing return after her freshman year, but DePaul also had a ton of offensive weapons at their disposal like Elise Wyatt and Franny Cerny, meaning Ben wasn’t going to be under as much scoring pressure. DePaul looks like it’ll be solid over the next few seasons, so Ben should again have chances to impress, hopefully in the NCAA Tournament. Her size at just 5’0” is a major obstacle, but the left-winger has defied expectation thus far and could be a great sleeper come Draft Day 2018.

25. Carla Portillo – MF – West Virginia

AKA, the other talented Canadian midfielder for the Mountaineers. Most people automatically think of Ashley Lawrence when speaking about WVU’s Canadian legion in the middle of the park, but Portillo’s come into her own and should continue that tradition after Lawrence graduates following the 2016 season. Portillo was a promising prospect as a rookie but was anchored to a super sub role given the depth of talent in front of her, only really breaking out this past season as a member of the starting lineup in twenty-one matches. Portillo’s not as much an offensive force as Lawrence is and tallied three goals and four assists last season but could see her importance in the offense rise in her final two years in Morgantown. Portillo has a couple of strikes against her, notably her size (5’1”) and status as an international, but she should be able to carve out a professional home for herself somewhere if she keeps growing into her potential.

26. McKayla Paulson – D (CB) – Texas A&M

Towering force in central defense has established herself as one of the nation’s most promising young center-backs after two seasons anchoring the Texas A&M defense. Came in and was immediately a starter in 2014 as a rookie for a Aggie team with massive expectations and would have started every match had she not been cut down by a horrific tackle in the match against Vanderbilt. Promptly did more of the same as a sophomore for an A&M side reloading after major losses to graduation and helped the defense propel the club to an unexpected appearance in the Elite Eight. Even got involved in the attack last season, scoring three goals and adding two assists to the cause for the SEC powerhouse. Probably flew under the radar a little bit last year but still looks poised on paper to be a major part of any deep postseason run Texas A&M can put together with high expectations of another trip to the College Cup for the next few years. A&M churns out pro prospects, and the mountainous Paulson looks like another contender to add to the list in a few years’ time.

27. Jennifer Cafferky – D (CB) – Central Connecticut State

Is Cafferky this class’ most interesting small school player? Cafferky’s story is sort of well known at this point, committing to Hawaii at one point before ending up at Central Connecticut State and promptly standing out from her mid-major teammates in a major way. The former Swedish youth international made NEC football look easy as a rookie, winning Defensive Player of the Year honors as a freshman and then showing it was no fluke by repeating with that major award as a sophomore. Cafferky is on pace to become one of the NEC’s best ever players and could finish up her career as the league’s best ever defender if she continues her relentless form for the Blue Devils. Problem? Dominating NEC offenses says only so much about her potential success at the next level, and it’s difficult envisioning Cafferky being more than a late-round type of pick if she stays in this niche the next two seasons. Regardless, she’ll probably find a suitor in Europe if she doesn’t make it here, and she’ll probably be paid by a club of some repute based on early evidence of her talent.

28. Hannah Lopiccolo – MF (AMC) – Northeastern

Looking increasingly likely of being one of the top mid-major players in the class and has a real shot at creeping into the middle rounds considering the lack of strength of this class on paper. Lopiccolo turned a lot of heads as a rookie for Northeastern, already establishing herself as one of the CAA’s best players, regardless of age, and largely matched those feats with six goals for a second straight season last year, though her assist total dropped to just one. Lopiccolo was far more efficient with her scoring though, netting those goals in just forty-one shots and tabbing three game winners for her trouble, an encouraging sign for a midfielder. Barring a horrible downturn in form, it’s likely that Lopiccolo will leave here as one of the program’s best players in a few more years and could finally get a Husky alum in the pros. Northeastern’s a perennial challenger in the CAA, and if Lopiccolo keeps that trend going, the spritely midfielder could rise in these rankings further.

29. Emily Boyd – GK – Cal

Cal keeper has become the de facto #3 netminder in this class behind Murphy and Miller after two strong years with the Golden Bears to begin her collegiate career. Picked up the slack as a rookie at a program with traditionally strong goalkeeping, looking like a real prospect to watch after starting twenty-one games and excelling to the point that she got a little bit of notice from the U.S. Soccer hierarchy. Hasn’t quite been able to catch up to the top two in this class, though those netminders do play for College Cup contenders, while Boyd has backstopped a very good but not great Cal side the past few seasons. Played all but fifteen minutes last season as the club’s keeper of choice and played well though not quite at the elite level. Recalled to the U.S. U20 team in the offseason and could be in the running for the third GK spot. The international experience would certainly boost a profile that’s been strong through two years, with Boyd looking like a strong contender for a roster spot in the NWSL in a few years at this pace.

30. Bizzy Phillips Bowen – MF (CM) – BYU

Central midfielder came to BYU as a big time addition for a program that sometimes struggles to bring in elite level talent and looks primed to be key to any run towards a College Cup in 2016. Hasn’t quite developed into a superstar as some might have expected given her pedigree but has nonetheless been a constant presence in midfield for her two years in Provo. BYU’s shoot first offense allows Phillips Bowen more than a few opportunities to pull the trigger in the middle of the park, but she scored just one goal in the run of play on forty-seven shots, so there has to be some worry about her role at the next level. If she does make it, it’ll probably be as a high energy connective player in midfield, though she’s a little on the slight side at 5’4”, so it remains to be seen if she can defend top talent in midfield at professional level. BYU’s loaded this year, so Phillips Bowen could move up this board if she can help lead the Cougars to postseason glory.

31. Aly Moon – MF/F (AMC, LF) – Arizona State

Tiny winger looked like having the potential of being one of this class’ best players after a fantastic freshman season that saw her score ten goals as she helped along a potent Arizona State attack. To say her sophomore season didn’t go quite so well is perhaps a big understatement. Moon, like the rest of her ASU teammates endured a brutally poor season, and while four goals and five assists wasn’t the worst return in the world, it was still a bitter disappointment considering how well she had played just a season earlier. Oddly, Moon finished just tied for fourth in shots for the club despite having been a proven scorer a season earlier. With Cali Farquharson gone now, Moon is probably going to have to pick up the scoring slack if ASU wants to rebound in 2016. Moon already has size issues to overcome if she wants to make it at the next level, so a bounce back junior season will be crucial for her stock.

32. Ashton Miller – MF (CM) – Duke

Duke’s struggles in 2014 probably obscured the fact that Miller showed the potential to be a very good midfielder indeed in the ACC, as she started sixteen matches as a rookie in the middle of the park for the Blue Devils. The secret was truly well and out last year though, as Miller was a key figure deep in the midfield for the national runners-up. Starting all but one match, Miller relished her role in the offense, providing an all-action influence in the midfield and finishing with five goals and five assists while also serving as the club’s corner kick taker most of the time. To be truthful, Miller’s offense came mostly against some of the lesser lights on Duke’s schedule, though she did have the pivotal assist against North Carolina, to break Duke’s long duck against their rivals. Miller’s true influence goes beyond the stat sheet though, and with Duke set to be a contender for her final two years here, she could be one of the class’ big gainers by draft day.

33. Saga Fredriksson – D (RB) – UCF

Swedish youth international was seen as a massive addition to international-centric UCF upon signing before the 2014 season and did well despite starting just eleven matches as a rookie at right-back for the Knights. It wasn’t exactly reflected in the postseason awards tally, but Fredriksson continued to grow last year, starting eighteen matches for the Knights in another successful campaign while racking up a handful of assists, including one on the game winning goal against Georgetown early in the season. Turned into a real minutes eater late as well, playing every minute possible down the stretch, a rarity for full-backs at this level. Not particularly big at just 5’3” but has nonetheless established herself as one of the AAC’s best full-backs. International status makes a roster spot in the NWSL unlikely, but Fredriksson figures to command some attention from European clubs following the end of her career in Orlando.

34. Liz Wenger – D (CB) – Georgetown

Those who are more than casual observers of the college game know that there’s been much more than just the Corboz sisters here over the past half-decade, and Wenger has been an important piece of the defensive puzzle for Georgetown the past two seasons, truly flourishing last season on the backline. Wenger had started fifteen matches for the club as a rookie but really turned into a rock last year, finishing as just one of two Hoyas to start every match for the club. Coach Dave Nolan has tried to tout Wenger’s ability to attack from the back with the ball at her feet, but she’s probably played in a much more conservative role here and didn’t post a single offensive stat of note last year for the club. With both top keepers from last year graduating, Wenger could be under the microscope this season as a defensive leader who needs to keep the backline cohesive in front of a new keeper. If she continues to grow, Wenger could make a solid move up this board.

35. Haley Pounds – F (LF) – Texas A&M

Winger had a massive breakthrough as a sophomore in 2015 after a tepid showing as a super sub in her first year here. Despite being a long-time youth international before coming to A&M, Pounds rarely cracked the starting lineup as a rookie and netted just a single goal for her troubles on a stacked Aggie squad. With heavy losses to graduation after 2014, Pounds was one of many youngsters given a chance to shine and made the most of it, scoring thirteen times as she became a fixture for the Aggie frontline. Three of those goals were from the spot though, and Pounds scored in just three of her final thirteen on the season, perhaps raising some consistency questions. A goal and an assist against Washington in the NCAA Tournament was big for the Aggies, but Pounds was more muted in the rest of the NCAA Tournament. Wingers with a nose for goal are a rarity, so if Pounds can keep knocking them in and showing she’s not a one season wonder, she could zoom up this list.

36. Colby Ciarrocca – F (LF, CF) – Rutgers

Former star with the powerhouse PDA club in New Jersey probably raised a few eyebrows by setting off to a downtrodden Vanderbilt to start her college career but looked like a potential budding star as a rookie, with five goals despite starting just four games for the Dores. A regime change in Nashville brought Ciarrocca back home to New Jersey, where she immediately proved to be an important offensive cog in the Scarlet Knights’ unexpected run to the College Cup. Started a little slow with her new club but finished with a flurry, doing much of the damage against Big Ten foes and in the postseason, finishing with nine goals, including four game winners, with the next high scorer for Rutgers tallying just five. Still lacks consistency at times but has good efficiency numbers with a goal in just over every five shots and a 54.9% SOG rate. If she can rake in double figures this season, a jump into the Top 25 on next year’s board is likely.

37. Megan Buckingham – F (LF), MF (LM) – North Carolina

A mystery. Buckingham looked like a player on the fast track to stardom after a freshman season that saw her named ACC Freshman of the Year playing as a left-winger and forward for the Heels. Ideally, some saw Buckingham as a potential solution to the offensive malaise that has gripped Chapel Hill the past few seasons, but Buckingham had a bizarrely muted sophomore season for UNC. Expected as a sure starter in 2015, Buckingham instead started just three games and missed four overall for the club while playing under six hundred minutes as a sophomore. Buckingham would net just a pair of goals for the Heels and failed to regain her starting spot, even as UNC struggled with injuries and form on offense. With the likes of Summer Green, Katie Bowen, and Alexa Newfield all departing after last season, a starting spot should again be within Buckingham’s grasp. But there’s also offensive talent coming in, and if Buckingham can’t find her freshman form in 2016, she could drop off this list entirely before her senior season.

38. Shannon Horgan – F, D (LB) – Clemson

ACC standout was a pretty big get for a rebuilding Clemson side upon her arrival, and that signing looks even better now, with Horgan developing into one of the key members of this Tigers program. Started almost every match as a rookie, no small feat in this conference, and scored some big game winning goals against rival South Carolina and ACC foe Boston College. Biggest question is whether Horgan has a position at the next level. The New Yorker has played mostly as an attacker here at Clemson but only took sixteen shots last season while scoring three goals, which is somewhat concerning when you realize the Tigers weren’t exactly overflowing with goals last season. Has been on the fringes of the U20 team over the past cycle and was brought in to play left-back in recent camps. Doesn’t seem likely to be on the final squad going to Papua New Guinea for the U20 World Cup but does figure to get looks at full-back at the next level in all likelihood. It will be interesting to see if the Tigers give her a run out on defense over the next few years.

39. Kellie Peay – D (CB) – Santa Clara

Looks to be another contender in coming off the conveyor belt of potential pro talent that annually makes its way through Santa Clara. Peay came into SCU as a highly touted recruit and ended up a starter on day one in the defense here but wouldn’t really begin to win plaudits until this past season as a lynchpin in the backline once again. Has started every match possible through two seasons with the Broncos and looks like a key defensive piece to the puzzle if SCU is to get back to the top of the WCC. Size is probably borderline for a pro level center-back, but Peay’s probably versatile enough to play centrally or out wide if called upon. Good for a little offense with three goals and two assists in two seasons here but probably not going to provide big numbers. Has played centrally in a three-back system for the Broncos in her first two years here. SCU players often turn out better in the pros, which has to be a promising sign considering Peay’s looked pretty good in two years already.

40. Stacie Moran – D (CB) – San Diego State

Californian has wasted no time in establishing herself as one of the West Coast’s most promising center-backs. Established herself as a starter from day one for the Aztecs, playing in every match as a freshman and doing so once again last year. Has shown the pace and athleticism to help shut down many bigger conference attackers while also being a key anchor on a dominating defense at Mountain West level. Also capable of playing as an attacker and had a couple of assists last season, though she didn’t score herself. Good size for the next level, likely still as a center-back. Aztecs could be loaded over the next few years, meaning Moran could have a nice platform to continue to move up these rankings. SDSU also schedules pretty aggressively in non-conference play, meaning she’ll be able to test herself against some of the nation’s best attackers to also potentially boost her stock.

41. Kayla Adamek – MF, F (LF) – UCF

Canadian youth international looked like a rising star upon signing with UCF and did very well as a rookie in 2013, scoring nine goals for the perennial contenders from Orlando before hitting a big roadblock through injury that cost her the entire 2014 season. It proved to be a temporary setback, as Adamek returned with a vengeance to be a key cog in the Knights’ offense last year. Proved her durability last year by leading the club in minutes and starting every game as Adamek finished with six goals and six assists for the Knights. Came up big with a goal and an assist against South Florida in the regular season to boost UCF in the AAC standings. Mixed bag with her efficiency numbers, though she usually hits the target, with a 56.1% SOG rate last year. Can be used as an attacking midfielder or on the wing, with versatility another asset. Probably not good enough for an allocation or international spot right away in the NWSL but could work her way in the league after impressing abroad for some European club.

42. Ashley Gonzales – F – Long Beach State

Has been money in the bank leading the line for a strong LBSU side the past two seasons, earning Big West Freshman of the Year honors in 2014. Became a starter right away here and justified her manager’s decision by scoring seventeen goals in two seasons for the Beach, though five of those have come from the penalty spot. A proven match winner having netted ten game winning goals in just two seasons, an astonishing return for such a young player in such a competitive conference. Efficiency numbers a little below average when you take penalties out of the equation, but you get the feeling that if Gonzales is a little sharper in front of goal, she could go far in a class short on top level forwards. Doesn’t provide much in the way of assists with just three in two seasons. Competition always a question with mid-major forwards, but LBSU schedules better than most, so Gonzales will have chances to impress the next two years.

43. Nikki Walts – MF (MC, RM) – Ohio State

Under the radar a bit considering she plays for a big conference school with a relatively high profile, but Walts could be an underrated gem in a class desperate for some depth in talent after a sharp drop-off from the first few prospects. Walts immediately stepped right into the midfield and became an important minutes eater as a rookie, leading the team in minutes played if not in offensive numbers. That part of Walts’ game grew exponentially as a sophomore, as she finished tied for the team lead in assists with seven despite playing an inconsistent frontline. Five goals also boosted her numbers, though a couple of those came from the penalty spot, with Walts’ overall efficiency probably what you’d expect from a true midfielder. Has played as a central attacking midfielder or a winger, but playmaking ability probably sees her more as a central midfielder at the next level. Could have a big season in 2016 if her forwards finally put it all together.

44. Kimberly Keever – F (CF, RF) – Washington

Shifty forward was a super sub du jour as a rookie for the Huskies but has grown into a solid weapon in the starting lineup after two seasons in Seattle. Scored six goals for the second straight season and won three penalty kicks for the Huskies, showing her ability to make things happen in the box even if she isn’t scoring. Two of her three game winning goals came against Pac-12 opposition, showing some clutch ability as well. Efficiency numbers aren’t bad at all compared to some rivals in this class, so there’s certainly room for the Husky forward to rocket up this list considering a dearth of star forwards on paper. Lacks size to play centrally at the next level despite having done so with UW, so she’ll probably have to cut her teeth as a dangerous winger as a pro. UW attackers have seldom been consistent over four seasons, so taking the next step is key for Keever if she wants to move up this list.

45. Lydia Simmons – MF (AMC) – Vanderbilt

A one-time highly thought of prospect who looked like a recruiting coup for a school with Vanderbilt’s profile, Simmons is only now beginning to reach some of that vast potential. A former U.S. youth international all the way up to the U17 age group, Simmons got a delayed start to her college career after redshirting through injury in 2013. There were signs of growth as a rookie in 2014, but there was only so much she could do on a team that languished in the SEC. A new coaching regime brought new life to the program and to Simmons, who broke out in a big way with five goals as the club’s main attacking midfielder as Vanderbilt was one of the league’s more improved sides last season. The key now is if she can get the club into contention for an NCAA Tournament as one of its lead players. If she can, expect Simmons’ stock to rise even more in a class desperate for proven talent.

46. Madison Stark – D (RB) – Arizona State

ASU right-back went from strength to strength after a strong sophomore season despite a brutally disappointing season on the whole from the program. Was a minutes eater as a rookie, leading the team in minutes played and was near the top of the chart again this season for the Sun Devils, starting seventeen of eighteen matches for the club this year. Doesn’t provide a bunch in terms of assists coming forward from her right-back spot. Big game experience in the Pac-12 helps, but her leadership ability should be put to the test over the next few seasons after McKenzie Berryhill’s graduation. ASU was a mid-table defense last year in the Pac-12, and you get the feeling she’ll need to help improve on that if Stark’s to climb up the board. A little undersized but passable, and full-backs are always in demand, so she’s got a shot.

47. Shannon Simon – MF (CM), F – Washington

Husky attacker was promising as a rookie, when she worked her way into the starting lineup early but took things to another level last season as a focal point of the offense. Led the team in goals, assists, shots, and game winning goals as a sophomore, though the goals tally is a bit misleading considering Simon was the club’s dedicated penalty taker, converting all three of her attempts. Take penalties out of the equation, and Simon scored four goals on seventy-three shots, which isn’t exactly a number to crow about. The Huskies will probably fare better with a true #9 to carry the scoring load, freeing up Simon to pull the strings from the middle of the park. There’s no shortage of attacking talent in Seattle, so it’ll be interesting to see if she can put it all together, but Simon’s definitely shown signs of being a promising talent in two years thus far.

48. Carlyn Baldwin – MF (DMC) – Tennessee

This is an eye of the beholder type thing. Baldwin came into the college ranks with a fair share of hype behind her after making the 2014 U20 World Cup team as one of the youngest members on the roster. But it’s safe to say that Baldwin’s been a major disappointment in two seasons in Knoxville thus far, though how much of that is down to being surrounded by a group of serial underachievers is a debatable topic. Baldwin’s freshman season was certainly more promising than last year, as she languished on a bad Tennessee team, unable to pull the strings deep in midfield with such a toothless offense playing in front of her. Injuries have reportedly taken a toll on her for two seasons, but she’s presumably healthy going into 2016, which looks like a make or break year for her draft stock. Vastly undersized though for a center midfielder, which has to be a major red flag given her history of nagging injuries.

49. Sydney Sladek – MF – USC

Nevada native has become a key, but understated part of the Trojans’ attacking corps over two seasons with the club. Was a part-time starter in 2014 as a rookie and did well in that time with two goals and four assists to establish herself as one of the Pac-12’s most promising young talents. Sealed a starting spot full-time for USC this past season and play some forward given the glut of midfield talent the Women of Troy had at their disposal with the addition of Morgan Andrews among others. Scored just three goals on twenty-nine shots though, so her future probably isn’t on the frontline of an NWSL club. Those goals were pretty big ones though, with two going down as match winners, including one against Cal. USC’s been offensively challenged at times the past few seasons, and you suspect Sladek’s going to have to continue to grow if they’re to change that in her remaining two years of eligibility.

50. Maria Sanchez – F – Unattached (Idaho State)

Without a doubt, this class’ wildcard. Sanchez is currently a mystery, as it was confirmed recently that the Mexican international would be leaving Idaho State to try and play at a higher standard of club going forward. It’s hard to argue at her logic, considering the Bengals were pitiful in 2015, not winning a single game against a Division I opponent despite Sanchez scoring fifteen goals in seventeen matches for the club. It was a brilliant follow-up to her rookie season, where she scored seven and flew onto the radar for El Tri after going unnoticed for so long. Efficiency numbers aren’t great on paper, and it’s tough to judge based on ISU’s weak schedule and a dearth of talent around her, so she’ll need to find a bigger club that hopefully affords her some opportunities to continue growing as a player to justify this ranking come next year.

2 thoughts on “Chris’ 2018 NWSL Draft Big Board Top 50 – Sullivan Still #1

  1. john

    Bassinger may spend 2016 as a center back. I’ve seen her play there in a Penn State spring game and in the her first game for the Spirit Reserves. With Reihl redshirting for the U20 WWC I guess Bassinger is moving centrally. LB is probably her best position, but I’m not sure anyone will be able to scout her there in 2016.

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