At January’s 2015 NWSL College Draft in Philadelphia, UCLA went six-for-six as each Bruin registered for the draft was ultimately selected to begin a professional career.
Midfielders Sarah Killion and Samantha Mewis, defenders Abby Dahlkemper, Megan Oyster and Caprice Dydasco and goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland were all selected within the first three rounds.
Killion was the first Bruin selected (No. 2 overall) in the draft. The midfielder is swapping California for New Jersey when she begins her first professional season with Sky Blue FC.
“I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, so I’m pretty used to the cold and playing in that kind of weather,” Killion said following the draft. “I just kind of got to shift my mind back four years to the old times, I guess. But, I’ll be ready for it; I’m still pretty used to it.”
The defensive midfielder was essential to the Bruins’ recent success, including the program’s first national championship in 2013.
During her time in Los Angeles, The Indiana native saw starts in 77 of the 88 games she played. She registered 13 goals and 32 assists.
Finishing last season as one of four NWSL teams with a negative goal difference, Killion’s defensive abilities will be vital to the team’s success this season, especially during this summer’s Women’s World Cup.
Drafted just one spot behind Killion was Bruin teammate Abby Dahlkemper. Dahlkemper was a consistent force on UCLA’s back line that allowed just 38 goals scored from the 2011-12 through 2014-15 seasons.
Dahlkemper was one of two Bruins drafted by the Western New York Flash.
After finishing last season in seventh place—and failing to make a championship appearance since 2010—the team has undergone a complete makeover, including the appointment of technical director Charlie Naimo.
Naimo previously coached Dahlkemper on the LA Blues (formerly known as the Pali Blues) in 2013 and 2014.
With the Blues, Dahlkemper won back-to-back W-League titles.
Joining Dahlkemper in Rochester, N.Y. this season is former UCLA teammate Samantha Mewis.
Mewis, who was drafted No. 4 overall, is an attacking midfielder who, most recently, won U.S. Soccer’s 2014 Young Female Athlete of the Year award.
During her four years in Los Angeles, Mewis racked up 31 goals and 32 assists from 87 matches played (86 of which were starts).
Receiving the captain’s armband during her junior season, the Massachusetts native led the team to a historic national championship victory.
To date, Mewis has also earned three caps with the full U.S. women’s national team—playing alongside current Flash teammate Whitney Engen.
While Engen is expected to miss a large chunk of the season, the familiarity between Mewis and Dahlkemper could help keep the team afloat during the World Cup.
“I think it’s always nice to have players around you with whom you have played in the past,” UCLA head coach Amanda Cromwell said. “It brings an immediate comfort and familiarity. I think anything that contributes to good team chemistry is a plus.”
The next Bruin selected in the draft came at No. 13 (midway through the second round) when the Washington Spirit selected defender Megan Oyster.
Oyster helped lead the Bruins defense to impressive feats—including a 0.245 goals against average during her senior season, in which the team allowed just six goals and 55 shots on goal.
One of the defender’s most notable accomplishments during her time with the Bruins was assisting the game-winning goal in overtime to give the team its first national championship in December 2013.
The fifth UCLA player selected during the draft was Katelyn Rowland (No. 17), who was selected by last season’s champions: FC Kansas City.
Playing in 90 matches, the goalkeeper made 202 saves (including a career-high 65 during her junior year), posted 55 shutouts and let just 35 goals in.
Compiling a four-year goals against average of 0.40, Rowland faced just six losses as a Bruin and could give FC Kansas City’s current starting goalkeeper, Nicole Barnhart, the tough task of retaining that starting position.
While Barnhart has been a prominent No. 2 on the U.S. women’s national team for years, she has fallen out of favor with U.S. head coach Jill Ellis and is not expected to be named to the team’s World Cup roster this summer.
The sixth, and final, Bruin drafted was defender Caprice Dydasco, who was selected by the Washington Spirit as the first pick in the third round (No. 19 overall).
From the back line, Dydasco impressed with 23 assists, the eighth-best in the university’s history.
Though the Spirit finished the regular season in fourth place, the team was the only one in the top five to finish with a negative goal difference.
With Ashlyn Harris, Crystal Dunn and Ali Krieger all likely to be named to the United States’ World Cup squad (meaning they’re expected to miss a majority of the season), the linkup between left back Dydasco and center back Oyster will be one to look out for.
Speaking of Dydasco, Spirit head coach Mark Parsons mentioned that “although she’s a defender, she makes us better going forward as well as [being] a great defender.”
Cromwell attended the draft and was decorated with scarves from the four clubs her six players were drafted by.
Speaking on the draft, Cromwell described seeing her six players all drafted as “incredible.”
“These players are fulfilling their dreams [and] getting the opportunity to play soccer at an incredibly high level and are able to continue developing as athletes,” she said. “The success at the draft is always a plus across the board [for UCLA’s women’s soccer program].”
The 1995 Women’s World Cup bronze medalist noted that she hopes to attend some matches this summer to see her former players make the transition from the college game to the professional level.
With the 2015 season kicking off in less than two weeks, Cromwell has heard many positives from her former Bruins.
“I have spoken to the players and they are enjoying every minute of [preseason],” she said. “They are happy to be training with their new teammates and in such a competitive environment.”