The 2017 NWSL draft was held in Los Angeles on Thursday, and while Southern California is always a good source of talent in women’s soccer, the home cooking — to say nothing of the hard work by the players to get to this moment — meant that a total of 10 players with local ties were selected out of 40 total picks.
After three University of Southern California players were selected in the first round draft, two more local Los Angeles college products were selected each from UCLA and USC.
UCLA’s Darian Jenkins was selected by recently relocated team North Carolina Courage, at No. 7 overall in the first round. The forward, who is recovering from a broken leg suffered during a game in October, is joining the defending league champions, as the Western New York Flash moved to North Carolina officially earlier in the week.
“I’m out of the [walking] boot next week and I can start running,” Jenkins told reporters after her selection.
On being selected in the draft being held in the city where she played college soccer, the Utah native said, “It’s awesome. A lot of my teammates are volunteering to work around [the draft], so it’s really cool to do that in front of my coaches. My mom flew out, and my teammates, and some of my club coaches came out, too.”
Aside from Jenkins, USC’s Katie Johnson was selected in the second round, No. 16 overall, by the Seattle Reign. Johnson was the fourth player taken on the day from USC, which won their second NCAA national title last season. The Monrovia local is also on the Mexican national team.
And USC goalkeeper Sammy Jo Prudhomme was selected as the first pick in the fourth round (No. 31 overall) by the Boston Breakers. Prudhomme is from Aliso Viejo and played for So Cal Blues as a youth player.
A second UCLA player, midfielder Lauren Kaskie, was selected in the fourth round, No. 39 overall, by the Chicago Red Stars.
In addition to those seven USC and UCLA products selected on Thursday, three players who grew up in Southern California but went to college outside the region were also selected. One was Stanford’s Maddie Bauer, taken one spot before Jenkins at No. 6 overall, by the Seattle Reign. The Slammers FC product out of Newport Beach will look to help the Reign’s backline bounce back after a down 2016 season.
Another local selection was Cal’s Ifeoma Onumonu, taken No. 8 overall by the Boston Breakers, who had four picks in the first round alone. The Rancho Cucamonga local played club soccer for Arsenal.
Westlake Village’s Arielle Ship, who played club soccer for Real So Cal and collegiately for Cal, was selected in the third round, 26th overall, also by the Reign.
So in all, 10 players with SoCal ties were taken in the 2017 draft. Of course, the next challenge for many of them will be to make the roster, something that isn’t necessarily assured in all cases with the survival of the NWSL to an unprecedented fifth season. Still, the dreams of many women came true on this day, and now the hard work really begins.