On the day when most National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) teams were only announcing cuts to their preseason rosters, Sky Blue FC (SBFC) announced a couple of changes to its preseason roster.
The most noteworthy is the return of midfielder Ashley Nick, who played for SBFC during the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
Nick originally signed with SBFC in July 2013, starting in two of three appearances for the club. The following season she had 17 starts over 22 appearances and tallied one goal. After being traded to the Houston Dash by SBFC at the end of 2014, Nick was then traded to Western New York Flash in exchange for defender Toni Pressley. Over the course of the 2015 season, Nick racked up nine starts in 16 appearances and one assist between the two teams.
"We are very excited to bring Ashley back to New Jersey," said Sky Blue FC Head Coach Christy Holly. "She will be a tremendous asset for us and will provide our team with a great amount of experience and leadership in the midfield."
And experience she has.
The California native played at the University of Southern California, where she captained the team to the 2007 NCAA College Cup Championship, receiving All-American accolades along the way. She also played on the 2013 USL W-League champion Pali Blues Soccer Club, where she earned the championship's most valuable player award.
Internationally she played for a number of European club teams, including FC Twente, with whom she won the Dutch Vrouwen Eredivisie championship, and Arna Bjørnar, for which she was named Impact Player after leading the team to a bronze-medal finish in the Norwegian Toppserien league.
In addition to the signing of Nick, Sky Blue also announced three cuts to its preseason roster.
In accordance with NWSL regulations that required all preseason rosters be cut to 25 players by Tuesday, March 29, Sky Blue announced it had released midfielders Nicole Baxter and Hayley Katkowski and goalkeeper Brittany Anghel.
None of the cuts come as a surprise as Katkowski, who played in the second half against St. John's University on March 20, was the only one of the three to see any time on the field during Sky Blue’s pair of preseason matches.
Overall, Coach Holly is pleased with his 25-player roster and the improvements he has seen with his team throughout preseason thus far.
"We have seen a lot of improvement, both individually and as a team, and that is something that gives us a great deal of confidence as we approach the regular season," Holly said.
In other preseason roster news, defender Kelley O’Hara has also left camp to train with the U. S. Women’s National Team in preparation for a pair of friendlies against Colombia at the start of April. Costa Rican midfielder and first-round draft pick Raquel Rodriguez is set to join SBFC for training later this week, while Australian internationals Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord are slated to arrive in the upcoming weeks.