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2011 WPS Draft: Philly, Freedom steal the show

The 2011 WPS Draft produced two serious winners in the case of the Philadelphia Independence and magicTalk SC/Washington Freedom.  Both teams came away with several top-notch players that slipped later into the draft than expected.

Philadelphia Head Coach Paul Riley went into the draft looking for a center back.  He knew he would get either Lauren Fowlkes or Lauren Barnes – widely considered the two best center backs in the draft – but he never imagined he would get both.  Riley took Fowlkes with the No. 5 selection and managed to pass over Barnes twice more before selecting the UCLA defender at No. 15.

“I was shocked that Barnes dropped that deep,” Riley said.  “I mean we were talking about Barnes being No. 5 for us.”

Meanwhile, magicTalk SC/Washington Freedom pulled off a coup, drafting North Carolina midfielder Meghan Klingenberg at No. 3 and then stealing Stanford forward Christen Press at No. 4, a pick the Freedom club acquired (along with a player to be named) from the Atlanta Beat in exchange for a 2012 first round draft pick.

The Freedom followed that up by taking Omolyn Davis at No. 10.  Davis starred for the Freedom Futures in their 2010 W-League campaign and proved to be a true sleeper pick out of George Mason.  To top it off, projected first round pick Amanda DaCosta – a scrappy midfielder out of Florida State – was still available at No. 17, which magicTalk SC/Washington Freedom took advantage of.

“She was slated to go in the first round and I definitely think we got a steal there, so we are really excited about all of our choices that we made today,” Freedom General Manager Brianna Scurry said.

Philadelphia arguably had just as productive of a draft, picking up Virginia midfielder Sinead Farrelly at No. 2, a player Riley feels was the best available.

“She’s a thoroughbred,” he said  “She can just do everything and I think we don’t get many good midfielders coming out of college.  I don’t think there is one coach here that wouldn’t say that Farrelly is the best soccer player in the draft.  She might not be the most effective player in the draft but she is the best soccer player in the draft.”

Expect Farrelly to play in an attacking role, similar to that of Lori Lindsey or Tina DiMartino.

There were also several curious decisions made Friday, including Atlanta’s decision to pass on Christen Press by trading away the No. 3-overall pick.  Apparently, the Beat had its eyes on UCLA midfielder Kylie Wright the whole time.

“We knew that our No. 1 pick was going to be there at No. 7,” Atlanta Head Coach James Galanis said.  “We did a lot of research and that’s the one that we wanted and we noticed that she was flying under the radar in all the ratings and all the blogs so we just thought we’ll get a pick next year where the draft is a lot deeper.  There’s a lot of talent next year, so we wanted Meghan [Lenczyk] up top and Kylie in the midfield.  That’s how it panned out, so we are real happy.”

The 2011 installment of the WPS Draft proved to be a very different environment from 2010, which featured an active draft room packed with fans.  This closed-door draft did not feature any players on site.  Alex Morgan, selected No. 1-overall by the Western New York Flash, and Klingenbergh were both en route to China with the United States Women’s National Team on Friday when the draft was being conducted, making for an unusual draft day experience.

“It was really funny,” Meghan Klingenberg said on Friday from China.  “We were in the air during the draft so when we landed all these texts from our family and friends came through so it was really exciting.”

Here is the full draft breakdown:

  1. Western New York – Alex Morgan, F, California
  2. Philadelphia Independence – Sinead Farrelly, M, Virginia
  3. magicTalk SC/Washington Freedom – Meghan Klingenberg, M, North Carolina
  4. magicTalk SC/Washington Freedom – Christen Press, F, Stanford
  5. Philadelphia Independence – Lauren Fowlkes, D, Notre Dame
  6. Boston Breakers – Keelin Winters, M, Portland
  7. Atlanta Beat – Kylie Wright, M, UCLA
  8. Western New York Flash – Elli Reed, D, Portland
  9. Philadelphia Independence – Jennifer Stoltenberg, F, Oregon
  10. magicTalk SC/Washington Freedom – Omolyn Davis, M/F, George Mason
  11. Philadelphia Independence – Caitlin Farrell, D, Wake Forest
  12. Boston Breakers – Whitney Palmer, F, Oklahoma
  13. Western New York – Rose Augustin, M, Notre Dame
  14. Atlanta Beat – Meghan Lenczyk, F, Virginia
  15. Philadelphia Independence – Lauren Barnes, D, UCLA
  16. Sky Blue FC – Alyssa Mautz, M, Texas A&M
  17. magicTalk SC/Washington Freedom – Amanda DaCosta, M, Florida State
  18. Philadelphia Independence – Bianca D’Agostino, M, Wake Forest
  19. Boston Breakers – Katherine Sheeleigh, F, Harvard
  20. Western New York Flash – Ashley Bowers, GK, Niagara
  21. Sky Blue FC – Lauren Alkek, F, Oklahoma
  22. magicTalk SC/Washington Freedom – Katie Fraine, GK, Florida
  23. Philadelphia Independence – Theresa Rynier, M, James Madison
  24. Boston Breakers – Tonya Taylor, F, UC-Irvine
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