The 2012 WPS draft is over and Sky Blue FC has picked up five players through the draft that they hope will fill in the pieces of a championship puzzle. Selecting twice in the first four picks of the opening round, the team took forward Melissa Henderson (pictured) of Notre Dame, and the team then added versatile Stanford product Camille Levin with the fourth pick of the draft.
Henderson, a two-time NSCAA All-American, registered 44 points on 18 goals and eight assists this past fall for the Fighting Irish. Over her four seasons in South Bend, she tallied 70 total goals, including 24 game-winners, to go along with 26 assists for a total of 166 points during her prolific college career. The Texas native ranks fourth in program history for goals and sits ninth in the school record books in points. The four-time All-Big East selection was the winner of the 2010 Honda Sports Award, also helping Notre Dame to three NCAA College Cup appearances. Two of those three showings included trips to the championship game, including an NCAA Title in 2010 when the Fighting Irish defeated Stanford, 1-0. On the international scene, Henderson has played at every youth level of the U.S. National Team and was most recently called into camp with the full national team this past December.
Levin comes to Sky Blue FC with experience at virtually every position on the field. The California native was named a First Team NSCAA All-American this past season as a defender, also helping Stanford raise an NCAA Championship following a 1-0 victory of Duke. The versatile Levin has been a key member of a Cardinal side which has reached four consecutive NCAA College Cup Final Fours, including three consecutive championship appearances. Despite spending much of her time in Palo Alto on the Stanford back line, she was still a big contributor on the offensive end and tallied 35 career points on 10 goals and 15 assists
The team closed out the event with three more picks over the final three rounds. In the second round, the team took New Jersey native and Georgetown product Ingrid Wells (9th overall), and finished the day by selecting Boston College goalkeeper Jillian Mastroianni in the third round (15th overall) and Michigan State striker Laura Heyboer in the fourth round (19th overall).
A native of Upper Monclair, New Jersey, and graduate of Montclair High School, Wells made an immediate impression during her freshman season at Georgetown University by scoring six goals and dealing a program record 13 assists. She was a three-time NSCAA All-American while playing for the Hoyas, most recently leading her team to a school best 15 wins this past fall. She also led her side with 30 points on nine goals and 12 assists. The two-time Big East Midfielder of the Year was named to the All-Conference First Team four straight times, and she is currently the all-time scoring leader in Georgetown history after recording 108 points on 31 goals and 46 assists. Wells, who recently headed into training camp with the senior U.S. National Team in December, is currently under contract to play for Koparbergs/Göteborg FC in Sweden, but Sky Blue FC will own her WPS playing rights for the next year.
Mastroianni was a starter all four years she was at Boston College, eventually setting program records in minutes played (8094), wins (60) and shutouts (43). An alumna of the U-23 U.S. National Team, the Connecticut native was an NSCAA Southeast Regional All-America Third Team selection following her senior year this past fall. For her college career, Mastroianni started all 89 games in which she participated and registered a shutout in nearly half of those outings.
Heyboer is the most decorated women’s soccer player in Michigan State history, receiving NSCAA All-America honors on three occasions. She finished her college career as the all-time leading scorer in the Spartan record books after recording 139 points on 57 goals and 25 assists, being named to the All-Big Ten Conference First Team after all four seasons in East Lansing. Additionally, the Michigan resident scored 19 game-winning goals while suiting up for the Spartans, another best in program history.
Draft reactions from Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra:
Melissa Henderson: “Henderson is a complete forward who fits in very well with the other players on our roster. We feel very happy to have been able to select her at the two spot.”
Camille Levin: “Levin is a versatile player who brings many intangibles to our team. She is a brilliant attack-minded defender, and she has the talent to play almost anywhere on the field.”
Ingrid Wells: “Wells is arguably the best midfielder coming out of school this year. Even though she is currently under contract in Sweden, it was worth taking the chance and getting the rights to a player with the type of ability that she has.”
Jillian Mastroianni: “I have liked Jill ever since her freshman year at Boston College and have always had her on my radar. She is an athletic and solid player who brings true goalkeeping skills to the table. Especially considering where we were picking, we are very happy to have selected her.”
Laura Heyboer: “Heyboer is athletic and comes from a very physical conference. She had an injury that set her back for a couple of years, but she is a proven goal scorer. When you can find a goal scorer, no matter where it is or what the situation might be, you have to take a chance on it.”
Without a doubt the choice of Henderson as their first pick shows the seriousness of Sky Blue to put together a star- studded powerhouse this year. As a long standing Notre Dame fan myself I couldn’t have advised the club with any better a college draft pick to complement the rest of the team’s pre-draft signings. Much as it is great to have yet another New Jersey native on the team, especially since they lost Heather O’Reilly to Boston, but picking up a player already under contract in Europe like Ingrid Wells may not have been the best decision. Yes she is a great midfielder, but having WPS rights to an internationally contracted player means Sky Blue has second pickings, not exactly top billing.
None the less, overall the draft has been a good for our New Jersey team, they are New Jersey not New York, as we the fans hope to get that championship back here in New Jersey and out of Western New York.