posted 03/29/14 at 3:44am
on Looking ahead to the Sweet 16
posted by All White Kit
Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 2:55pm EST
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Overall Top 5
Chioma Ubogagu – F – Stanford
Abby Dahlkemper – D – UCLA
Morgan Brian – M – Virginia
Sarah Killion – M – UCLA
Dagny Brynjarsdottir – M – Florida State
There’s a fair amount of talent to be had at the top in 2015…just don’t expect to find too much in the way of blue-chip talent further down the pecking order. On the whole, this class’ depth drops off precipitously compared to other classes, though there are still two seasons left for the depth to be fleshed out a bit. Chioma Ubogagu heading up this list is as much a projection pick as anything, with the sophomore still showing tantalizing dribbling and passing skill for both club and country in the U20 World Cup. Her unselfishness is to a fault at times though, and critics may still be waiting for that one big breakout season that could cement her place near the top of the pecking order. Abby Dahlkemper is probably the more complete player right now and might be the most complete player in this class at the moment, but center-backs usually don’t move the needle for teams high up in these drafts. The UCLA center-back is solid as a rock in the Bruins’ stern defense and capable in the air as well. She might not be a first overall selection, but she’ll probably be a first round pick who could enjoy a long and fruitful career at the next level. I suspect Morgan Brian may end up on top of these rankings come the end of her senior season, but like Ubogagu, you sense that there’s more “there” there than what we’ve seen through two seasons. She was devastating for much of UVA’s postseason run, but underwhelmed for much of the ACC season, with more consistency needed if she’s to truly hit her potential. Killion’s been overlooked for much of two seasons in Westwood compared to her flashier teammates, but the sophomore midfielder has been one of the most quietly effective players in the nation. Defensive midfielders don’t tend to go high in drafts, but Killion’s steadiness will likely see her in with a shout at being a first round pick in 2015. Brynjarsdottir’s already featuring for the Icelandic WNT along with her Florida State exploits and has been a revelation playing off of Tiffany McCarty in the club’s 4-2-3-1. She’s got a bit of everything and could easily end up as this class’ best player, but she’ll have many suitors in Europe, meaning she could get plucked away before having a chance to strut her stuff in the NWSL.
Sabrina D’Angelo – South Carolina
Jordan Day – Texas A&M
Tatiana Saunders – Dartmouth
Katelyn Rowland – UCLA
Rachel Boaz – San Diego State
2015 doesn’t exactly look like a vintage year for goalkeepers, and little has seemed to dissuade that notion after this college season. Sabrina D’Angelo still looks like the class of the field after another stellar season in between the pipes for South Carolina. The athletic Canadian is likely the future in goal for her country and will almost certainly be a shoo-in for a federation funded spot in the NWSL should she continue to develop at this level. Few have likely made bigger strides at the position this year than Texas A&M’s Jordan Day, who looks like another fine goalkeeping prospect from a club that’s produced many of them over the years. Dominant in the air, Day could round into an elite keeper should she continue to progress in College Station. Saunders was a big part of the revolution at Dartmouth these past few seasons, and the England youth international could be a long-term solution for her country in goal. She’ll likely have many suitors back across the pond though, and a move abroad could help her chances at cementing a spot at senior level for England. Rowland’s been more steady than spectacular for UCLA thus far, but that’s good enough to see her high on the queue for netminders in this class, though you suspect there’s more to come from the Westwood netminder. She’ll have a battle on her hands though to retain the title of the state’s best keeper in this class though, as SDSU’s Boaz was a revelation for the Aztecs in the club’s huge 2012 campaign and could rise further still up these rankings if she can repeat this year’s efforts.
Abby Dahlkemper – UCLA
Jaelene Hinkle – Texas Tech
Satara Murray – North Carolina
Arin Gilliland – Kentucky
Whitney Church – Penn State
Texas Tech’s use of the “magic square” formation has allowed Jaelene Hinkle a license to roam down the flank, and the sophomore has made good use of it thus far, helping ignite the Red Raiders’ surging offense out wide. With adventurous full-backs such a coveted item in the modern professional game, Hinkle could well be a big difference maker at the highest level with another two strong seasons for TTU. Murray took a little while to find her feet at this level with UNC, but she was an absolute colossus in defense for the national champions this year, even as the lineup around her was shuffled on multiple occasions due to injuries. A fantastic blend of power and pace, Murray could be scary in defense with two more years under her belt in Chapel Hill. Gilliland had a fine season for Kentucky, even after a serious knee injury late in her freshman season. Starting out as a full-back for the Wildcats this year, the sophomore was thrust up front later in the year and made her attacking instincts count for UK as the club surged late. Her future likely lies at full-back though and is another great prospect on the flanks from this class. Whitney Church did a great job in the 3-5-2 Penn State utilized this year, despite playing primarily as a midfielder last year. She’s undersized for a center-back despite filling in there ably this year, meaning a move out wide or back into a defensive midfield role may be in store for the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Morgan Brian – Virginia
Sarah Killion – UCLA
Dagny Brynjarsdottir – Florida State
Daphne Corboz – Georgetown
Samantha Mewis – UCLA
Corboz in a sense stepped out of the lengthy shadow of Ingrid Wells this year, but it’s not like she hadn’t been a stud as a rookie. She netted ten times in 2011 but essentially went supernova as a sophomore, with eighteen goals and eight assists to her name. She’s more finisher than playmaker than Wells was, and it remains to be seen whether she can keep up that scoring pace, though if she can, a high draft position awaits the second-year player for the Hoyas. Mewis looks like this year’s enigma. All the tools are there for dominance, but it’s not been a memorable year for the towering midfielder from UCLA. There was the hesitance to use her in long stretches from Steve Swanson at the U20 World Cup, followed by a rather fitful sophomore season back in Westwood. The potential is still there for her to rise into the highest echelons of this draft class, but her status as an elite player from this group is far from a lock.
Chioma Ubogagu – Stanford
Taylor Uhl – Minnesota
Hannah Wilkinson – Tennessee
Sofia Huerta – Santa Clara
Rachel Tejada – Illinois State
Eyes were certainly raised last season when Uhl, an under the radar prospect coming in to Minnesota promptly reeled off a brilliant rookie season for the Golden Gophers. There wasn’t anything close to a sophomore slump either, with Uhl again effectively spearheading a dangerous attack, netting twenty-one goals while also adding nine assists. While Minnesota hasn’t been a bulwark for big name talent in the past, it’s hard to ignore numbers like those, meaning Uhl could be a prized prospect in a few seasons. Wilkinson came along with Brian Pensky to Tennessee and showed why she was such an important get in her first season of college ball, with her combination of speed and power resembling that of Wake Forest’s Katie Stengel in many ways. With a full preseason and likely uninterrupted junior campaign to come, Wilkinson’s stock could surge upward in the coming months. Huerta’s had a whirlwind year of her own for club and country, as she’s become one of Santa Clara’s leading figures along with now suddenly being one of the brightest hopes for the future for the Mexican WNT. A versatile asset capable of playing in many positions, Huerta’s gradually grown into an attacking lynchpin, and it’ll be very interesting to see how she combines with Morgan Marlborough in 2013 for SCU. Tejada, through two seasons with Illinois State, looks like taking the mid-major predator du jour crown from former Wisconsin-Milwaukee striker Sarah Hagen. Tejada’s strike rate has been exceptional through two seasons, and it’ll be interesting to see how she performs against any stern opposition that happens to crop up on ISU’s schedule the next two seasons.
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