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W-League Players Highlight NWSL Draft
LA Strikers standout Bywaters leads five first-round picks

W-League News Release 

Friday, January 18, 2013

TAMPA, Fla. – Led by former LA Strikers standout Zakiya Bywaters, selected with the No. 1 overall pick by the Chicago Red Stars, former W-League standouts featured prominently in the inaugural National Women’s Soccer League Draft, held on Friday morning in conjunction with the NSCAA Convention in Indianapolis. Bywaters led a group of five former W-League players selected in the first round, and 17 overall, who will join the NWSL for its inaugural season this spring.

Bywaters’ selection as the No. 1 overall pick continues the W-League’s history of helping develop top college players as they move toward the professional ranks. Sydney Leroux (No. 1, 2012 WPS Draft), Alex Morgan (No. 1, 2011 WPS Draft) and Tobin Heath (No. 1, 2010 WPS Draft) all precede Bywaters as top selections who arrived in the professional ranks with W-League experience.

Bywaters, also a standout at UCLA, made six appearances for the Strikers this past summer, scoring once. She was followed in the draft by former Pali Blues standout Tiffany McCarty, taken with the No. 2 selection by the Washington Spirit, while former Chicago Red Eleven defender Casey Short was selected fifth by the Boston Breakers.

Former D.C. United Women standout Christine Nairn, who was a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy last week, was taken by the Seattle Reign with the No. 7 selection, and the opening round was completed by the Portland Thorns, who selected 2012 W-League Championship MVP Kathryn Williamson of the Ottawa Fury with the final selection.

Williamson wasn’t the only former W-League champion to be selected, with Atlanta Silverbacks standout goalkeeper Ashley Baker being taken by Sky Blue FC with the 20th selection. Baker was the goalkeeper for the Silverbacks when they claimed the 2011 W-League Championship against Ottawa. Mariah Nogueira, who played for the Pali Blues’ 2009 championship side, was selected with the No. 13 pick by the Boston Breakers.

In addition to McCarty and Nogueira, Pali also saw Rachel Quon selected, giving the Blues three selections overall, the most of any W-League team. Other standouts selected included former Bradenton Athletics mifielder Erika Tymrak, taken with the No. 11 pick by FC Kansas City, Colorado Rush standout Kendall Johnson, selected by Sky Blue FC with the No. 12 pick, former Real Colorado Cougars standout Taylor Vancil, selected by the Chicago Red Stars with the No. 17 pick, and former D.C. United Women defender Holly King, who returns to the capital as a member of the Washington Spirit. 

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