AWK 2012 WPS Draft Big Board Pre-College Season Edition

Here we go. Because the 2012 WPS Draft is (let’s hope) five months away, it’s time to start talking about who might be stocking the rosters of our favorite WPS sides. This is my shot in the dark attempt at a pre-NCAA season ranking of senior pro prospects. Nineteen of my Top 24 on the last revision of last year’s Big Board were drafted or saw time on WPS rosters this year. Sixteen others on the Big Board did likewise this season. Some caveats:

A) Size Matters (At Some Positions Much More Than Others) – While the flourishing Christina DiMartino puts paid to the idea that everyone needs to be a hulking giant out there, you’re still not going to find too many 5’2″ defensive midfielders or 5’4″ goalkeepers at this level.

B) Injuries Matter Too – If anything, the past few years have taught us that most WPS clubs aren’t going to take too many chances on collegiate players with long injury histories.

Tier I – Can’t Miss Prospects (Probably)

1. Bianca Henninger – GK – Santa Clara

(Will Henninger be the first pick in the 2012 Draft? Maybe, maybe not. This might be the first season when need could trump talent since the top two are both Blue Chip prospects. Henninger could be a once in a generation talent in goal who may be the U.S.’ #1 for the next decade. There are a lot of keepers who can stop shots, but Henninger’s leadership and command of her area sets her apart from her peers.)

2. Melissa Henderson – F – Notre Dame

(How have the cries for Melissa Henderson to get a shot at the full USWNT level been so quiet? Henderson has the capability to dribble around entire defenses with stunning ease on her way to the goal and looks like the early favorite for the Hermann Trophy this year. The whippett quick Texan has the size, speed, and clinical finishing skill to be a major force at the professional and international level. She’s probably the safest pick of the top three and is the very definition of a complete forward.)

Tier II – Franchise Player Potential

3. Sydney Leroux – F – UCLA

(Leroux is a big time boom or bust pick with an unparalleled ability to take over a game. The Canadian-American (or is it American-Canadian?) has enormous upside but doesn’t come without risk. The Bruin spearhead is notoriously inconsistent and has at times been effectively marked out of the match by middling defenders at the college level. But her physical talent and capability of dropping your jaw with a stunning piece of skill will undoubtedly coax some team to try and tame her mercurial ways. A player who really needs to fall into the right situation.)

4. Sarah Hagen – F – Wisconsin-Milwaukee

(“Apple” might be a tick below the top three in this draft, but she has the potential to force her way into the U.S. National Team with her power and deft touch in front of goal. Quite possibly the greatest player in Horizon League history and has a realistic chance of hitting the ninety goal mark for her college career with a good season in 2011. Has certainly not looked out of place with the US U-23 team in recent months, scoring in each of the team’s last six matches. The next Abby Wambach?)

Tier III – Possible Year One Starters

5. Courtney Barg – M – Notre Dame

(Skill is one thing, timing is another, and Barg may have hit the jackpot for the 2012 Draft. Whereas this year’s draft was full of defensive midfielders like Kylie Wright and Ashlee Elliott, next year looks a bit more barren. Barg is far and away the best player of her type for 2012, and you could see her impact on the Irish when she returned from injury late last year. Likely all that separates her from a first-round selection is proving she can go a full year without injury in 2011.)

6. Ingrid Wells – M – Georgetown

(Let’s get this out of the way first, Wells isn’t called “The Little General” for nothing. She’s well undersized and will probably have to be protected in the center of midfield by a bigger enforcer. But she’s also a dynamic, intelligent playmaker who managed to put a whopping two-thirds of her shots in Big East play on goal last year. Wells can both create and finish, making her a versatile asset for someone’s team. Best of all, there might be no better player in this class at making those around her better. There’s no reason to think she can’t do the same in the WPS.)

7. Toni Pressley – D – Florida State

(Towering defender is far and away the best defender of this class. She’s been an absolute rock at the back for FSU’s always tenacious D and should be a contributor from day one in the WPS. Also an effective Plan B option for a team up top at forward. A dark horse to crack the USWNT backline hierarchy in the near future.)

8. Teresa Noyola – M – Stanford

(The newly capped Mexican international is who she is. She’s not going to excel in fast, direct teams and is probably exclusively a playmaking center midfielder at the next level. Essentially, all of her limitations were on full display in the disastrous experiment as a wide forward in the National Title match against Notre Dame. But in a draft with a good number of little playmakers in midfield, Noyola’s probably the best. Could become a star in possession, ball-control oriented style teams.)

9. Jillian Mastroianni – GK – Boston College

(Mastroianni has the bad luck of being in the same goalkeeping class as Bianca Henninger, as she’d likely be a no-brainer as the first keeper taken in any other class. The Boston College keeper can be a bit streaky with her form but is practically a brick wall when on top of her match [see: vs Stanford in regular season last year]. In such a deep class, Mastroianni may need to show a bit more consistency to fortify her position as a first-round pick, although need may see her value jump if teams are looking for a starting keeper.)

10. Tori Huster – M – Florida State

(Gritty midfielder does all the little things right for the Seminoles and should become a crowd favorite wherever she lands in the pros. With Jessica Price and Tiffany McCarty out last season, FSU needed someone to step up offensively, and Huster responded in kind with six goals and seven assists. Versatility could make her a hot commodity in January.)

11. Katy Frierson – M – Auburn

(Like Noyola and Wells, Frierson’s probably a bit undersized but not to the extent of the playmaking duo listed above. The Auburn midfielder probably isn’t going to be setting any stopwatches on fire, but her technical skill and intangibles make up for a lack of size or speed. Frierson has immaculate vision in creating chances for her forward and strikes a ball with real venom. Also a dead-ball specialist who excels on free-kicks and corner kick delivery. Blessed with a great footballing mind. But does she make those around her better? A good season for her Tigers would do her draft stock a world of good, though you wonder if she might not excel with a better supporting cast.)

Tier IV – Solid Role Players, Potential Future Starters

12. Natalie Kulla – GK – Marquette

(The last elite level goalkeeping prospect of this class, Kulla’s also the roughest around the edges at the moment. Standing at a massive 6’0″, Kulla has been the fulcrum of Marquette’s steely defense for three seasons now. Still prone to the odd mistake here and there, Kulla still has a ton of upside and has the potential to grow into a WPS starter with the right coaching. Could force her way into the first round with more consistent play.)

13. Jessica Schuveiller – D – Notre Dame

(Tenacious center-back for the Irish has been a constant on the defense since stepping onto campus in 2008. Will be one of a big crop of talented central defenders to be vying for a spot in the early rounds in 2012. Potentially a top ten pick if she can produce another outstanding season in 2011.)

14. Courtney ‘CoCo’ Goodson – D/F – UC Irvine

(Scott Juniper’s capture of Texas transfer Goodson and the subsequent masterstroke of moving the hulking player into defense was a big part of Irvine’s 2010 success. Versatile enough to be a powerful defender on the backline or as a target forward up front, Goodson’s stock rose meteorically after a season which saw her capture the Big West’s Defensive Player of the Year award. With this class short on A+ defenders, another standout season could propel her to the edges of the first round.)

15. Kerry McBride – D – Marquette

(Late bloomer went from reserve in 2008 and 2009 to Big East Defensive Player of the Year last season. Another of this year’s tall players who have center-back aspirations at the next level. McBride is also capable on set pieces with her height and is a possible candidate for being converted into a crunching defensive midfielder. Needs to prove that she’s not a one hit wonder with strong follow-up season but size makes her tempting target in early rounds. Excelled as a sweeper last season, which could be a problem seeing as how nobody but the Brazilian WNT seems to be playing at the next level with such tactics.)

16. Melinda Mercado – D – Oklahoma State

(A massive defender who made a cameo season on the OSU basketball team in her freshman season. Her stock has been soaring since stepping on campus despite being a relatively unheralded prospect coming into college. She’s rounded into the best defender in the Big XII and dealing with the hulking forwards in the league should hold her in good stead against WPS’ physical attackers. Center-back has nice upside at the next level.)

17. Laura Heyboer – F – Michigan State

(Has her developmental curve flattened out? Has she truly recovered from that broken leg? I’d be really concerned if I was a WPS scout after seeing her score in only two of ten league matches last season. To be perfectly honest, I think Olivia Stander was the better forward for the Spartans last season, although MSU’s mediocre season didn’t help matters. I think she needs a big senior season to avoid a dip in the draft.)

18. Kathleen Beljan – D – Dayton

(Flyers’ left-back is likely the top full-back prospect for the 2012 draft. Despite being a little undersized at 5’2″, Beljan has the pace to be a factor at the next level. Versatility also means she could slot in as a left winger. One of the best A10 defenders of all-time and a budding club legend at Dayton.)

19. Danielle Foxhoven – F – Portland

(Foxhoven looked well on her way to becoming a contender for the first round…and then came 2010. The Pilot went goal crazy in 2009 with an eye-popping twenty-five goals and twelve assists but saw her offensive output tumble to eight goals and five assists, perhaps suffering from coach Garrett Smith’s relentless rotation policy throughout 2010. She took a backseat to Micaela Capelle at times last year and needs to rebound with a big year to avoid a potential further drop in a class filled with quality forwards.)

20. Stephanie Ochs – F – San Diego

(Like a fine wine, Ochs is getting better with age after an eight goal, seven assist showing in 2010. Is beginning to assert herself as a consistent member of the U.S. U23 team. Could be a late riser into the early rounds of the 2012 draft with another strong season for the Toreros.)

21. Sade Ayinde – F – Maryland

(Ayinde is The International Woman of Mystery of this draft class. After getting a shock call-up to the 2010 U20 World Cup roster [she was later replaced by Mollie Pathman], Ayinde promptly had one of the greatest super sub seasons by a college player ever. Despite only playing in roughly a third of each game, Ayinde led the team in scoring with ten goals and eight assists. Extrapolate that out a bit and even if she only played sixty minutes a match, Ayinde could have scored twenty goals. A powerful figure with a blisteringly hard shot, Ayinde figures to have a chance to make a big run up the board with a good season. It’ll be interesting to see if she’s still used as a super sub or thrown right in from the start this year.)

22. Kayla Grimsley – F – South Carolina

(Fiery. Volatile. Occasionally brilliant. Grimsley’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s really hard to argue against her results in the SEC for the Gamecocks. She’s probably not big or physical enough to be the focus up front for a pro team and could make her money as a trequartista playing between the lines. Jill Ellis used her in midfield at U20 camps and Grimsley found herself dropping into midfield for SC to help gain and maintain possession last year. Sometimes unselfish to a fault, looking to get her teammates involved at every opportunity.)

23. Kate Deines – M – Washington

(Stock has gone through the roof after a great junior season with the Huskies last year. After the top five midfielders, the quality takes a bit of a dive, and Deines is certainly the best of the rest at the moment. She’s a gritty leader for UW and is the type of player you just can’t cut come the end of training camp.)

24. Colleen Boyd – GK – Oregon State

(Boyd is a big keeper who has flown up draft boards as Oregon State has rounded into a national power. She’s probably a tick below the elite goalkeeping prospects but her size makes her an ideal candidate as a developmental backup for the future. With the Beavers a dark horse for the College Cup this year, Boyd could very well play her way into the early rounds.)

Tier V – Sleepers AKA The Beverly Goebel Zone

25. Lindsey Taylor – F – Stanford

(It’s Taylor’s time to shine as the lead gun in Stanford’s high powered offense. After playing sidekick to first Kelley O’Hara and then Christen Press, it should be Taylor’s team in 2011. Possessing a laser-like shot and no small degree of accuracy with 61% of her shots on goal last year, Taylor could be a contender for the Hermann Trophy this year. But she also has disappeared at times in her college career and needs to curb that inconsistent streak if she wants to be considered among the elite in this packed class.)

26. Laurie Nosbusch – F – Wisconsin

(There weren’t too many players more important to their teams than Nosbusch who was the primary outlet of offense for a sometimes goalshy Wisconsin team last year. Morphing from an equal opportunity finisher and provider in her first two seasons in Madison, Nosbusch saw her assists total plummet last year but her goal tally increase to double digits. It’s also impressive that Nosbusch was able to keep scoring when everyone pretty much knew that she was it when it came to significant scoring threats for the Badgers. Five match winners also shows a touch for clutch scoring that should catch WPS scouts’ eyes.)

27. Aline Reis – GK – UCF

(The best 5’3″ goalkeeper on planet Earth and probably could’ve done a better job than Brazilian compatriot Andreia in Germany earlier this Summer. Shows incredible command of her area and shot stopping ability for a keeper of her size. Problem is she’s 5’3″, and that could really drive some teams away. Also has shown signs of being injury prone during college career.)

28. Casey Short – M – Florida State
29. Furtuna Velaj – F – Quinnipiac
30. Lindsey Kowal – D – Harvard
31. Kelli D’Ambrisi – M – Georgetown
32. Bri Young – D – Texas A&M
33. Lizzy Simonin – D – Memphis
34. Alyssa Pember – D – Boston College
35. Krista Lopez – F – Oklahoma State
36. Erica Henderson – D – West Virginia
37. Meghan Flannery – D – Wisconsin
38. Jorde LaFontaine-Kussman – GK – Washington

(An absolute revelation last season in goal for the Huskies. Nigh-unbeatable when on form. Missed multiple seasons after a transfer from Cal to Washington and in battling cancer. Could likely get a sixth year of eligibility for medical hardship if she wants it.)

39. Annika Niemeier – M – Oklahoma State

(U20 World Cup winner in 2004 with Germany, it feels like Niemeier has been around forever thanks to a pair of serious knee injuries which put her WPS hopes in jeopardy. Could rehabilitate her stock with a big season in 2011 for the Cowgirls, but more likely to end up in the Frauen Bundesliga after her senior year.)

40. Tahnai Annis – M – Florida

(A blessedly and wonderfully unique player in these days of assembly line players. A 5’1″ “Fox In The Box” type poacher, Annis should teach a course to youngsters on late runs into the box and being in the right place at the right time. Has scored a ridiculous amount of clutch goals, including nine game winners, despite not being a pure forward. Short of stature but still powerful in the air. Could become a great pro in the right hands.)

Tier VI – Deep Sleepers AKA The Taryn Hemmings Zone

41. Jennifer Williams – F – New Mexico
42. Katie Ryan – F – Villanova
43. Courtney Jones – F – North Carolina

(A pure gunner at the forward position. Could become a big force professionally if she learns better shot selection.)

44. Jill Flietstra – GK – Michigan State
45. Allysha Chapman – D – LSU

(Canadian U20 international will probably be at defensive midfielder in 2011 for her senior season, but realistically, with her size, her future is probably at left-back, where she performed so ably as a junior in 2010.)

46. Alyssa Whitehead – GK – Samford

(Massive keeper is obviously a big presence in the box with a big kicking game to go with it. Needs work on handling.)

47. Cat Walker – M – San Diego State

(A wonderful player who’s torn up the WPSL in years past with the Boston Aztec organization who has the unfortunate luck of being saddled with multiple serious knee injuries in her past.)

48. Jessica Luscinski – F – Boston University
49. Kelsey Kearney – GK – UNC Greensboro
50. Camille Trujillo – F – Georgetown
51. Lauren Alwine – F – Virginia
52. Courtney Parsons – GK – San Diego
53. Rachael Sloan – F – Marquette
54. Paige Maxwell – F – Ohio State

(Color me skeptical. Has a wasteful streak a mile wide and needs to prove she wasn’t just a one-hit wonder last year.)

55. Jasmyne Spencer – F – Maryland

(Great college player with blazing speed. But she’s 5’1″, and if players in the past like Tiffany Yovino didn’t get a look, will she?)

56. Mallory Outerbridge – F – Western Kentucky

(Draft value shot up like a rocket after an amazing W-League season where she scored a ton of goals for runners-up, the Ottawa Fury. Not sure her value’s going to be booming further, even if she tears up the Sun Belt his year. Canadian is worth a flyer at the least though.)

57. Kylie Doniak – M – Texas
58. Blake Miller – F – West Virginia
59. Janice Cayman – F – Florida State

(A case where waiting a season thanks to extra eligibility may not pay off in professional soccer pursuits. Sharing a lot of time with other FSU scoring hotshots and competing against a deep class of forwards this year.)

60. Katie Jackson – M – UCF
61. Veronica Napoli – F – Northeastern
62. Ashli Sandoval – M – USC

(Yes, she’s still around. Injury prone but has hammers for feet and is deadly on short-range free kicks. Will surely get a look if she’s healthy.)

63. Brittany Galindo – D – Oregon State
64. Shawna Gordon – M – Long Beach State
65. Taylor Lytle – M – Texas Tech
66. Kelsey Hunyadi – F – Kentucky
67. Renae Cuellar – F – Arizona
68. Merritt Mathias – F – Texas A&M

(Are we sure she’s for real? Scored a whole lot of goals against middling teams last year. Against better opposition? Not so much. Could gain a lot of ground this year with a good season.)

69. Liesel Toth – D – Central Michigan
70. Ella Stephan – D – Florida State
71. Natalie Garcia – D – San Diego
72. Chantel Jones – GK – Virginia

(A USWNT youth international darling, but I’m not sure. Great shot stopper but questionable decision making and distribution/kicking leaves me cold, especially with a great goalkeeping class.)

73. Cat Barnekow – M – UNC Greensboro
74. Michele Dalton, GK, Wisconsin
75. Megan McQueeny – D – San Diego State
76. Jazmyne Avant – D – Florida

(Can’t defend the chair I’m sitting in, but there’s few better in college at getting up the line from the full-back position. Aching for a conversion into a flying winger at the next level.)

77. Natalie Martineau – M – LSU
78. Camille Levin – F – Stanford
79. Jessica Carlson – F – Illinois State
80. Andrea Zuniga – M – Creighton
81. Ashley Grove – F – Maryland
82. Shantel Flanary – F – Utah State
83. Julie King – D – Auburn
84. Ashleigh Barone – F – Siena
85. Justine Bernier – GK – Alabama
86. Halley Kreminski – F – Portland
87. Chelsea Klotz – F – South Florida
88. Melanie Baskind – F – Harvard
89. Taryne Boudreau – D – LSU
90. Lindsay Thompson – F – Florida
91. Kyndall Treadwell – M – Oklahoma State
92. Lauren Montenegro – M – Purdue
93. Laura McCalla – F – Purdue
94. Stacey-Ann Smith – F – Texas

(In this case world class speed isn’t hyperbole, as Smith’s a star on Texas’ track team. Now she has to prove she can be more than a reserve on the Longhorns’ bench.)

95. Chelsea Hatcher – F – Tennessee
96. Diana Weigel – D – William & Mary
97. Judy Christopher – M – UC Irvine
98. Alaina Beyar – D – Boston College
99. Kate Russell – M – Colorado
100. Katelin Chaklos – D – Michigan State

101. Kelly Reinwald – F – Canisius
102. Chandra Salmon – M – Utah State
103. Courtney Breen – M – Hofstra
104. Emma Thomson – D – Penn State
105. Jessica Ingram – D – San Jose State
106. Melissa Busque – M – UConn
107. Bailey Powell – D – Georgia
108. Kelsey Miller – D – Dayton
109. Jennie Marshall – F – BYU
110. Erin McNulty – GK – Penn State
111. Charney Burk – M – UCLA
112. Olivia Tucker – M – Mercer
113. Angelina Cords – D – Boston University
114. Alice Binns – GK – Boston University
115. Samantha Baker – F – Georgetown
116. Kristin Russell – GK – St. John’s
117. Niki Conn – F – Temple
118. Jessica Teahan – GK – Missouri State
119. Melinda Ingalls – M – Oregon State
120. Lauren Porter – D – Utah
121. Brielle Slepicoff – D – Cal State Northridge
122. Jenny Griffin – M – Canisius
123. Libby Stout – GK – Western Kentucky
124. Julia Bouchelle – M – Boston College
125. Carolyn Polcari – M – UAB
126. Drea Barklage – D – West Virginia
127. Lacey Bockhaus – GK – Southeastern Louisiana
128. Stephanie Skowneski – F – Western Michigan
129. Brittany Butts – M – Hofstra
130. Jenny LaPonte – D – Santa Clara

(Purely on her questionable injury status. Bump her up about sixty spots if she’s healthy and has a good season.)

131. Ellen Fahey – D – South Carolina
132. Chante’ Sandiford – GK – UCLA
133. Molly Thomas – F – Nebraska
134. Martha Hall – F – Furman
135. Allison Kagawa – D – Brown
136. Kristen Lynn – F – Toledo
137. Jessica Shufelt – F – UConn
138. Vikki Alonzo – GK – Miami (FL)
139. Ashley Seal – D – Oregon State
140. Brittany Persaud – F – Wright State
141. Abbey Stratton – D – North Dakota State
142. Ariana Calderon – F – Long Island
143. Kelly Thomas – D – George Mason
144. Alison Gasparovic – M – Indiana State
145. Caitlin Hulyo – GK – Colorado College
146. Morgan Showalter – M – Iowa
147. Lizzy Hildebrandt – M – Memphis
148. Kaitlyn Eidson – D – SMU
149. Jordan Calhoun – F – TCU
150. Vicki Traven – GK – Toledo
151. Sarah Chapman – M – Florida
152. Sophie Hargreaves – M – Murray State
153. Jessica Hurtado – M – Jacksonville
154. Jen Pfeiffer – F – Saint Joseph’s
155. Olivia Elias – M – Florida Gulf Coast
156. Jess Hopton – D – LaSalle
157. Rachel King – F – Louisiana Tech
158. Aimee Luurtsema – M – Liberty
159. Jenn Kimoto – D – Niagara
160. Natalie Daniels – M – Cleveland State
161. Amanda Collins – M – New Mexico
162. Tori Rocke – GK – Oklahoma
163. Jordan King – D – Stephen F. Austin
164. Kelsey Bernard – M – Texas State
165. Toni Carnovale – M – Portland State
166. Donna-Kay Henry – F – Chattanooga
167. Alyssa Decker – D – Fairfield
169. Sari Lin – GK – Belmont
169. Ashlin Yahr – F – Columbia
170. Silvia Betancourt – M – Liberty
171. Deanna Colarossi – F – UMass
172. Kyle MacIntosh – M – Southeastern Louisiana
173. Sarah Lynch – M – Oakland
174. Kristina Wavomba – F – Pacific
175. Jenna Samora – F – Northern Arizona
176. Scotti Culton – D – Louisiana Tech
177. Liz Fink – M – Jacksonville
178. Natalie McCabe – D – Illinois State
179. Emily Moran – GK – Iowa
180. Megan Hock – F – IUPUI
181. Ari Wood – M – Weber State
182. Julie Kaim – D – Eastern Michigan
183. McKinzie Olson – GK – BYU
184. Aisha Lott – D – UC Davis
185. Stephanie Powers – GK – Florida Gulf Coast

Super Awesome Bonus Feature – Positional & Top 5 Rankings For 2013 Draft (*crosses fingers*)

GK

1. Adrianna Franch (Oklahoma State)
2. Alexa Gaul (Texas)
3. Tara Campbell (Duke)
4. Cat Parkhill (Minnesota)
5. Ashley Baker (Georgia)

Defender

1. Kat Williamson (Florida)
2. Lindsi Lisonbee (BYU)
3. Rachel Quon (Stanford)
4. Alina Garciamendez (Stanford)
5. Kendall Johnson (Portland)

Midfielder

1. Kristie Mewis (Boston College)
2. Erika Tymrak (Florida)
3. Amber Brooks (North Carolina)
4. Christine Nairn (Penn State)
5. Bri Rodriguez (West Virginia)

Forward

1. Victoria DiMartino (Boston College)
2. Chelsea Buckland (Oregon State)
3. Tiffany McCarty (Florida State)
4. Morgan Marlborough (Nebraska)
5. Colleen Williams (Dayton)

Overall Top 5

1. Kristie Mewis – M – Boston College
2. Adrianna Franch – GK – Oklahoma State
3. Victoria DiMartino – F – Boston College
4. Kat Williamson – D – Florida
5. Erika Tymrak – M – Florida

3 thoughts on “AWK 2012 WPS Draft Big Board Pre-College Season Edition

  1. gogogo

    You’re absolutely right about Henderson. As the WNT starts planning for the late Wambach/post Wambach era, Mel should get a long look by the national team, especially if Cheney stays in the midfield. One could imagine a Morgan-Henderson strike force carving them up in a few years….

    Reply

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