Lauletta’s League Lowdown: 2012 WPS Draft – One Last Look Back
There may not have been any trades consummated on draft day 2012, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes.
— Dan Lauletta
Two-Time WPS Coach of the Year Paul Riely recaps the draft with WPS Draft Day broadcasters Kyndra de St. Aubin and Dean Linke.
There may not have been any trades consummated on draft day 2012, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes. WPS teams love to deal draft picks so the selection order was muddled all the way. The Beat once owned three picks inside the first round but they flipped one of them to the Flash and another to Sky Blue FC.
Most of the time picks are traded on speculation, but the deal that landed Sky Blue FC the fourth overall pick was made right on top of the draft when picks are more likely to get moved with certain players in mind. Sky Blue FC moved up into the No. 4 slot to take either Camille Levin or Stephanie Ochs, ultimately focusing in on Levin.
“The last couple of days I was worried we might have to take (Levin) at two,” Sky Blue coach Jim Gabarra said of Levin. “She’s so unique. She’s an attacking wide defender who can play in midfield.” Gabarra ultimately used the second pick on Melissa Henderson, who the club had rated over no. 1 pick Sydney Leroux.
The Breakers wound up taking Ochs at no. 3. That was considered a surprising choice and had some wondering why they did not try to trade down. They pulled the trigger on Ochs with the third pick though, believing Sky Blue FC were ready to take her at no. 4.
Sky Blue FC later talked trade with the Independence, apparently concerning Lindsay Taylor. But it appears both were bluffing with Levin and Sarah Hagen going with the no. 4 and 5 picks and Taylor slipping to the Flash at no. 6.
Here is a team by team look at how Draft Day 2012 went down.
Atlanta Beat: Leroux and then some
The Beat controlled things from the top of the draft and used the coveted top pick on Sydney Leroux, who was recently named to the US team currently trying to qualify for the Olympic Games in Vancouver. The Beat also nabbed Auburn forward Katy Frierson at no. 10 and Kate Deines from Washington with the 23rd and final pick of the afternoon.
“A very good day for us,” head coach James Galanis said. “We had our three targets and we got all of them so it’s an exciting time. It’s good.”
The Beat are also the only team to have stockpiled an extra pick for the future. The deal that sent Sky Blue FC the no. 4 overall pick landed Sky Blue’s first round grab in 2013.
Sky Blue FC: We wanted Henderson
Jim Gabarra conceded he would have gladly taken Sydney Leroux had the Beat used the top pick on Melissa Henderson, but the player they wanted was the Notre Dame forward Henderson.
“I wanted Henderson,” he said. “For what we have she was the player we targeted. She can take on players one-v.-one, facilitate other players, and provide service. And she is comfortable drifting off more to the left.”
Henderson is also likely to be with Sky Blue FC for the entire season while Leroux took a step closer to making the US Olympic team by playing her way onto the qualifying roster.
Sky Blue FC later took Ingrid Wells at no. 9. The Georgetown midfielder is signed to play in Sweden, but hails from New Jersey and whether she makes it to WPS or not, has her league rights held by Sky Blue FC.
Gabarra used his final pick on Jillian Mastroianni who will be at camp as part of an open battle to win the no. 2 goalkeeper job—a much bigger role if Canada qualifies for the Olympics thus pulling Karina LeBlanc away from the club.
All in all it was a more enjoyable experience than 2011 when Sky Blue FC did not hold a pick in the top 15.
“Last year I could have just gone to sleep,” Gabarra deadpanned.
Boston Breakers: We knew it was a surprise
The Breakers knew they were going to surprise some people when they took Stephanie Ochs with the no. 3 overall pick. But they wanted her, so they made the move.
“I think Stephanie Ochs’s best soccer is still ahead of her,” said Breakers head coach Lisa Cole. “She’s going into the U-23 camp. She has great athleticism and can find a way to score goals. She is someone that has taken her team and made them better. I think that’s important. Maybe we took her a bit early, but I knew if I didn’t take her Jim was going to take her at four.”
Maybe, and maybe not, but considering the Breakers did not have another pick until no. 11 it was a wise move to take the player they wanted at no. 3.
“I really like Ochs because I know she wants this,” Cole continued. “I think Ochs kind of fits into our game plan.”
The Breakers 2012 game plan is to go young. They have parted ways with US National Team defenders Amy LePeilbet, Rachel Buehler, and Stephanie Cox and will have to recreate their backline almost entirely from scratch. Melinda Mercado, a towering central defender from Oklahoma State taken with the 16th pick, will compete for a starting position according to Cole.
The Breakers also selected forward Courtney Jones, the only North Carolina player taken on draft day, and local product Jessica Luscinski out of Boston University.
Philadelphia Independence: Taking a Chance
Paul Riley could have taken the Hermann Trophy Award winner or another member of the national championship Stanford team, but he wanted Sarah Hagen. He had breakfast with Hagen’s agent the morning of the draft and it sent him to the room with enough confidence that Hagen will join the Independence after her stint with Bayern Munich.
“I really think she’s going to be on the full (National) Team by the next World Cup,” the two-time Coach of the Year said of his first round pick.
Later in the draft the Independence were able to nab several players Riley thought would be off the board.
“I didn’t expect to get CoCo (Goodson, no. 12) and Tori (Pressley, no. 13),” he said. “I thought we would get one of them, but to get both is fantastic. I didn’t think we’d get (Bianca) Henninger, I thought she’d be gone before we got to those three picks.”
Henninger, the first goalkeeper taken, went no. 14 at the end of the Independence’s string of three straight picks. The Independence also grabbed Danielle Foxhaven (no. 17, Portland) and Jasmyne Spencer (no. 21, Maryland)
On the draft in general Riley said: “We got size, we got speed, we got athleticism, but I’m sure everyone said the same thing. “
Flash: No snowjob getting Hermann winner
Aaran Lines’s gamble to fly from Buffalo to Kansas City the morning of the draft backfired when snow held him up, forcing him to conference in from his house. As it was the Flash were the last of the five teams to get a pick and they swooped in with picks no. 6, 7, and 8.
With the first two picks the league champions went to the NCAA champions to grab Lindsay Taylor and Teresa Noyola. The pair made the College Cup every year, finally cashing in last December, and their senior class did not lose a home match over four years. Noyola is currently in Canada where she was on the field for all five of Mexico’s goals in a 5-0 win over Guatemala in Olympic Qualifying. A titanic match against the US looms January 24.
The Flash opened the second round by taking Tori Huster at no. 8. Lines has been, “impressed with her vision and composure on the ball.” Huster will be reunited with Florida State teammate Becky Edwards, a situation Lines hopes will ease her transition to professional soccer.
The Flash also selected Tahnai Annis (no. 18, Florida) and Erica Henderson (no. 22, West Virginia).