BALTIMORE - With their first pick in the 2011 Women's Professional Soccer Draft, the Philadelphia Independence selected a hometown girl.
Paul Riley and his staff chose Virginia midfielder Sinead Farrelly, a Haverford, Pa., native and Haverford High School alumnus. Farrelly was a semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy, college soccer's version of the Heisman, in 2009 and 2010, and was the ACC's offensive player of the year last fall.
The Independence had a total of seven picks in the draft, more than any other team in the league. They kept them all, and chose some pretty good players with them.
With their second pick, the fifth overall, the Independence selected Lauren Fowlkes, a defender from reigning NCAA champions Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish shut out Stanford in the championship game and knocked out perennial power North Carolina in the third round. Fowlkes is in the United States Under-23 national team pool and was on the U.S. Under-20 squad that won the 2008 World Championship.
With their third pick, the ninth overall, the Independence drafted Oregon forward Jen Stoltenberg. She scored 12 goals and dished out five assists as a senior with the Ducks last fall.
With their fourth pick, the 11th overall, the Independence drafted Wake Forest defender Caitlin Farrell. She was also drafted by the Independence last year, but declined the offer and went to play professionally in the Netherlands. Presumably this pick means Farrell is coming back to the United States.
With their fifth pick, the 15th overall, the Independence drafted UCLA defender Lauren Barnes. She is on the United States Under-23 national team, and has been in U.S. national team pools since the under-15 age group.
With their sixth pick, the 18th overall, the Independence drafted Wake Forest midfielder Bianca D'Agostino. She transferred to Winston-Salem after her freshman year at Penn State, and was a co-captain of the Demon Deacons as a senior.
With their seventh and final pick, the 23rd overall, the Independence drafted James Madison midfielder Teresa Rynier. She is another local product, hailing from Leola, Pa. Rynier attended Conestoga Valley High School, then went on to set a school record with 53 career assists.
University of California forward and rising U.S. national team star Alex Morgan was the first overall pick, taken by the expansion Western New York Flash. The 2010 Hermann Trophy winner, Stanford forward Christen Press, was taken with the fourth overall pick by the Washington Freedom.
Stay tuned for more updates.
The Women's Professional Soccer Draft does not have the same pizzazz as yesterday's Major League Soccer SuperDraft. Unlike last year's draft, there aren't any be any players present to get up on stage, and fans were not invited to attend.
But the event is significant anyway, because of the precarious financial state of WPS. The draft provides the media with a rare opportunity to interview the coaches and front-office staffs from the league's six franchises in person. WPS has made a lot of budget cuts in this offseason, and a lot of front-office jobs no longer exist. This has made media relations a rather difficult task at times.
As for the Philadelphia Independence, the club has kept a very low profile during the offseason even though it has made some major moves. They include signing U.S. national team stars Megan Rapinoe and Natasha Kai, and trading dynamic Swedish midfielder Caroline Seger to Western New York.