NWSL Draft four shot

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC selected Kathryn Williamson, a defender from the University of Florida, with the eighth overall pick in the inaugural National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft on Friday at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. 

In the following rounds, Thorns FC drafted University of Central Florida forward Nicolette Radovcic in the second round (16th overall), University of North Carolina midfielder Amber Brooks in the third round (24th overall) and Pepperdine University goalkeeper Roxanne Barker with the final pick of the draft (32nd overall).

WATCH: Parlow Cone talks about the new players

The Chicago Red Stars selected UCLA forward Zakiya Bywaters with the first overall pick in the draft, which lasted four rounds, totaling 32 picks.  

Williamson, 23, a four-year starter at center back for the Gators, appeared in 81 matches (80 starts) and earned the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year award in 2010. Florida advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of Williamson’s four seasons on the team, as well as capturing SEC titles in 2009, 2011 and 2012. 

“I’m very excited about our four college draft picks. They’re all very technical players and players that I can see jumping into a game right away,” said Thorns FC head coach Cindy Parlow Cone. “They’re all going to be wonderful professionals.” 

A native of McKinney, Texas, Williamson attended a week-long training camp with the U-23 Women’s National Team at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., in January 2011. The two-time NSCAA All-American defender missed a large portion of the 2012 season after sustaining a knee injury, but was able to return to the field in time to help lead the Gators to the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament.

“Portland is known for its soccer and I was so excited to hear when I got drafted,” Williamson said. “I think it’s an awesome opportunity to have a professional league again and I’m ready for preseason to start and to give it a shot.” 

Radovcic, 22, led the Knights in scoring during her final two seasons with the program and finished her four-year career with 30 goals and 16 assists, including a 12-goal haul in 2012. A First-Team All-Conference USA selection in 2012, the Rockaway, N.J., native, helped lead UCF to the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament as a junior in 2011.  

Brooks, 21, was a two-time captain at the University of North Carolina and has played a prominent role for the U.S. U-23, U-20 and U-17 Women’s National Teams. The midfielder signed a contract with German club Bayern Munich of the Frauen Bundesliga in January. 

At UNC with Parlow Cone serving as an assistant coach, Brooks developed into one of the country’s top playmaking midfielders, starting all 23 games for the Tar Heels and recording seven goals and six assists during the team’s NCAA championship run in 2012. Serving as a key starter during her youth international career, Brooks played a significant role for her country in the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, captaining the team in the championship match and playing every minute of all five games. Brooks also served as a starter for the USA during the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and was named Most Valuable Player of the 2012 Four Nations Tournament in La Manga, Spain, as the U-23 Women’s National Team won the title in March 2012.

Barker, 21, finished her career at Pepperdine ranked first on the Waves’ all-time goalkeeping charts in goals-against average (0.77), second in shutouts (24), second in wins (35) and save percentage (.825). Born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Barker represented her native country at the London 2012 Olympics. The three-time All-West Coast Conference selection started South Africa’s opening match at the Olympics, playing the full 90 minutes in a 4-1 loss against Sweden. Barker has earned seven caps for South Africa.

U.S. Women’s National Team forward Alex Morgan, midfielder Tobin Heath and defender Rachel Buehler, along with Canada National Team and former University of Portland forward Christine Sinclair, goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc and Mexico National Team defenders Luz Saucedo and Marlene Sandoval were added to the roster last week through the NWSL National Team allocation process.

Roxanne Barker
Position: Goalkeeper
Height: 5-10
Born: May 6, 1991, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Hometown: Irvine, Calif.
College: Pepperdine Univ.
Nationality: South Africa

Amber Brooks
Position: Midfielder
Height: 5-6
Born: Jan. 23, 1991, in Evansville, Ind.
Hometown: New Hope, Pa.
College: Univ. of North Carolina
Nationality: United States

Nicolette Radovcic
Position: Forward
Height: 5-4
Born: Nov. 13, 1990, in Rockaway, N.J.
Hometown: Rockaway, N.J.
College: Univ. of Central Florida
Nationality: United States

Kathryn Williamson
Position: Defender
Height: 5-6
Born: Aug. 1, 1989, in McKinney, Texas
Hometown: McKinney, Texas
College: Univ. of Florida
Nationality: United States