The Washington Spirit, Germantown’s hometown professional woman’s soccer team, and their new general manager and head coach Jim Gabarra looked to add some new talent to their front line in the 2016 NWSL College Draft, held in Baltimore on Jan. 15.
The Spirit selected two forwards with their first two picks in the draft. Gabarra and the Spirit selected Florida State University forward Cheyna Williams with the seventh overall pick in the first round
Williams started every game for the Seminoles in 2015 as they reached their fifth consecutive College Cup. Williams led the team with 10 goals on the season.
With the 12th pick, the Spirit selected forward Cali Farquharson from Arizona State University. Farquharson is the second all-time leading scorer for the Sun Devils with 44 goals. She led her team in goals and points all four years of her ASU career.
“We could not be more pleased with our draft,” said Gabarra. “We can’t wait for preseason.”
The Spirit had two selections in the second round and selected midfielder Alli Murphy from Texas Tech University with the 20th overall pick. Murphy ranks third all-time in assists for Texas Tech with 25. She scored 13 goals during her college career.
The Spirit acquired their two second-round the 2016 NWSL College Draft from the Boston Breakers in a trade. In exchange, the Spirit sent midfielder Angela Salem to Boston.
In the fourth round, with the 34th overall pick, the Spirit drafted a goalkeeper, Madalyn Schiffel from the University of San Francisco. Schiffel holds single-season school records in wins (13), shutouts (9), and minutes in goal (1,865). She started all 20 matches her senior year. The Spirt did not have third round selection.
The Spirit had a unique opportunity to draft a hometown girl in Britt Eckerstrom, who is a 2010 graduate of Northwest High School. Eckerstrom was drafted in the third round, with the 26th overall pick by the Western New York Flash.
Eckerstrom, co-captained Penn State to the NCAA Championship after winning the Big Ten Championship, where she was named Defensive Player of the Tournament and to the All-Big Ten Tournament team. With 22 wins in 2015, Eckerstrom tied the school’s single-season win record and also held a 0.46 goals against average that year.
“Britt Eckerstrom is a great goalkeeper,” said Technical Director Charlie Naimo. “We’re extremely confident that Britt will challenge for games and potentially the number one role.”
With the club’s final pick of the draft, the Spirit chose defender Kara Wilson from Duke University with the No. 37 overall selection. Wilson was tri-captain of the team which went to the College Cup finals. Wilson is another local product from Potomac; she attended Sidwell Friends School. She has been a member of the Washington Spirit Reserves for three seasons dating back to 2013, including the 2015 USL W-League winning squad.
With a new general manager/head coach, the Washington Spirit will have a different look for the 2016 season. One of the major changes is the loss of starting goalkeeper and World Cup Champion Ashlyn Harris. Harris was sent to the expansion Orlando Pride as part of the NWSL Expansion Draft in early November.
In late November, the team resigned goalkeeper Kelsey Wys to a new contract for the 2016 NWSL season. Wys, 24, started 11 games for the Spirit in 2015, mostly while Harris was on duty with the US Women’s team. Wys, a Coral Springs, Fla. native, made 35 saves and recorded three shutouts.
In December, the Spirit announced signing forward Katie Stengel. Stengel helped lead Bayern Munich to the 2014-2015 Frauen-Bundesliga title with a team-leading nine goals. She has made six appearances for the United States U-23 Women’s National Team. Stengel was a member of the United States U-20 team which won the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship. Stengel attended college at Wake Forest University where she finished with a school record 50 goals in 75 games. She was a four time All-ACC honoree and a three-time All-American.
“I am looking forward to playing for the Washington Spirit this upcoming season,” said Stengel. “I’ve always wanted to play in the NWSL, and now I get the chance to represent an incredible club.”
“Katie Stengel is one of the top signings in the NWSL this offseason,” said Gabarra. “She is a quality forward who will complement the Spirit’s attack. I look forward to working with her and integrating her talents into our club.”
The Spirit will be returning US Women’s National Team players Ali Krieger and Crystal Dunn, as well as Canadian Women’s Team member Diana Matheson.
The Spirit preseason will begin in less than two months. The Spirit will play three exhibition matches at Maureen Hendricks Field at the Maryland SoccerPlex against top local college women’s teams: the University of Virginia on Saturday, March 19, Penn State University on Saturday, March 26, and the University of North Carolina on Saturday, April 2. These matches will all be a free and general admission. However you will need a ticket to enter. Get your FREE tickets here.
Washington Spirit 2016 season tickets are available now by calling 301-337-8579 or by visiting the website.
Top: Washington Spirit Head Coach and General Manager Jim Gabarra with the club’s first round selection in the 2016 NWSL College Draft Cheyna Williams, a forward from Florida State University. Photo courtesy Washington Spirit.
Next: Northwest High School alumnus Britt Eckerstrom was selected No. 26 overall by the Western New York Flash. Photo courtesy Western New York Flash.
Next: The Spirit have resigned goalkeeper Kelsey Wys to a new contract for the 2016 NWSL season. Wys is expected to be the Spirit’s no. 1 goalkeeper this season, since the loss of Ashlyn Harris to the Orlando Pride in the NWSL expansion draft.
Photo by Germantown Pulse.