The 2018 National Women's Soccer League (NSWL) College Draft was a busy day for Sky Blue FC as the club made five selections and was also involved in a blockbuster Draft Day trade that saw Sam Kerr and Nikki Stanton sent to Chicago.
The New Jersey club made three back-to-back-to-back picks in the first round, selecting forward Michaela Abam (West Virginia) fourth overall, followed by forward Imani Dorsey (Duke) at no. 5 and defender Amandine Pierre-Louis (West Virginia) at no. 6. With the 13th pick, Sky Blue FC selected goalkeeper Casey Murphy (Rutgers), and with the club's final selection of the day, the New Jersey side drafted midfielder Kiana Palacios (UC-Irvine) at no. 35.
Amongst the excitement came the multi-team trade with the Chicago Red Stars and the Houston Dash. Sky Blue FC sent Sam Kerr - the 2017 NWSL Most Valuable Player - and Nikki Stanton to Chicago, Christen Press was traded to Houston, and Carli Lloyd, Janine Beckie and Jen Hoy will come to New Jersey for the upcoming season. SBFC also acquired the no. 6 and no. 13 overall picks in the 2018 NWSL College Draft (which became Pierre-Louis and Murphy) from Chicago in exchange for the no. 15 overall pick.
“Sky Blue FC had a really good day at the NWSL Draft today,” said Sky Blue FC head coach Denise Reddy in a team press release. “We were able to acquire a group of high-quality players who address specific needs that will make our team stronger. Now that the majority of our roster is formed, I am really looking forward to getting on the pitch for preseason so we can begin implementing our style of play. February 19th cannot get here soon enough.”
Abam finished her collegiate career at West Virginia with 100 points on 42 goals and 16 assists. She also led the Mountaineers in points over four consecutive seasons. The Houston, Texas native holds a school record by making 95 appearances, including 79 starts. She earned All-Big 12 First Team honors over the past three seasons and was also named to the United Soccer Coaches All-America Second Team this past fall.
Dorsey was named the ACC Offensive Player of the Year in 2017 and earned herself a spot on the United Soccer Coaches First Team All-American list this past season. She led the Blue Devils with a team-high 14 goals and recorded five game-winners in 25 starts. Internationally, Dorsey has competed within the U.S. Women's National Team system at the U-15, U-17, U-18 and U-19 levels.
A steady anchor for the Mountaineer backline this past season, Pierre-Louis was named the 2017 Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year and earned United Soccer Coaches All-America Second Team honors. West Virginia posted 13 shutouts and allowed just 16 goals over the 2017 campaign. Pierre-Louis also scored a team second-best five goals during her senior year. The two-time All-Big 12 First Team honoree finished as the third-most experienced player in program history, appearing in 92 matches. On the international front, Pierre-Louis has been a steady fixture within the Canada Women’s National Team system.
A native of Bridgewater, N.J., Murphy is very familiar with Yurcak Field, having spent her collegiate career at Rutgers. This past fall, she registered 16 shutouts en route to being named the Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year while also receiving All-Big Ten First Team honors for the second time. In addition, she was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-America First Team. Overall, Murphy tallied 45 shutouts as a Scarlet Knight, which is a program record. Internationally, Murphy redshirted her junior year to compete as the starting goalkeeper for the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team in the 2016 U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Palacios brings additional international experience to Sky Blue FC, having played with the Mexico Women’s National Team. She was selected to the All-Big West First Team this past fall, and was also named the Big West Midfielder of the Year. The Lake Forest, Calif. native played in 66 matches while attending UC-Irvine, finishing with 24 goals (including nine game-winners) and 62 points.