01/16/2015 12:35 PM
Western New York Flash general manager and head coach Aaran Lines said he “couldn’t have imaged it going much better” after the Flash made six selections at the 2015 NWSL College Draft Friday morning in Philadelphia.
After a busy offseason, the Flash held the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 18th and 21st picks with the first four all coming in the opening round.
After selections from the Houston Dash and Sky Blue FC, the Flash claimed college teammates Abby Dahlkemper and Samantha Mewis with their first two picks before grabbing forward Lynn Williams and defender Jaelene Hinkle at the backend of the round. In the second round, forward Tatiana Coleman heard her name called with the Flash finalizing picks at all positions by selecting goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo in Round Three.
“Everything pretty much went to plan today,” Lines said. “These are young, dynamic players that have huge potential. We haven’t seen a draft this good in the history of the Western New York Flash. It’s put us in a good position and I’m excited to work and help that talent get to the next level.”
Flash Technical Director Charlie Naimo agreed with Lines that this year’s draft class was exactly what the Flash were hoping for.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the players and diversity that we are bringing in,” Naimo said. “They are all great, young professionals. Every player we picked has a legitimate shot to win a starting role on this team and that’s way more than you can hope for in a draft.”
With the No. 3 and No. 4 selections, the Flash drafted two members of UCLA’s 2013 College Cup-winning roster.
Dahlkemper, 21, entered Friday’s draft as the top rated defensive prospect. A native of Menlo Park, Ca., Dahlkemper has grown through the U.S. Soccer Youth National Team system, starting with the U-17s before moving to the U-20 and U-23 player pools. She participated in 2014 Six Nations Tournament and 2013 Four Nations Tournament with the U-23 U.S. Women’s National Team, and led the team to Championships in both events.
“I’m just super excited to get started with the Flash and get ready for the season,” Dahlkemper said following the draft. “I’m looking forward to being able to play, practice and keep getting better in a great environment.”
A four-year letterwinner at UCLA, Dahlkemper started all but one game throughout her collegiate career. In her junior season she was honored as a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy and in her senior year was a semifinalist for the coveted award. Dahlkemper earned NSCAA All-American honors all four years at UCLA, joining U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Lauren Holiday as the only Bruin to accomplish that feat.
Dahlkemper earned numerous additional accolades throughout her four years, including All-Pac-12 First Team and NSCAA All-Pacific Region honors each year. In her senior year, Dahlkemper was honored as the Pac-12 Defender of the Year and, the year prior, was named the NSCAA Scholar All-America Player of the Year.
Though a defender, she has the ability to contribute on the offensive end. Dahlkemper totaled five goals and 10 assists through her 93 games with the Bruins.
Mewis, 22, is currently a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team pool. This season the midfielder was a finalist for the 2014 MAC Hermann Trophy after completing a standout career at UCLA.
“Western New York is a great team and a great organization,” Mewis said. “I’m just really looking forward to getting the season started. Everything is falling into place. I’m pretty pumped. It’s going to be a good year and I’m excited.”
In her senior season, the Hanson, Mass. native was named espnW’s National Player of the Year, Pac-12 Player of the Year, First Team NSCAA All-American and First Team All-Pacific Region. Mewis was named to All-Pac-12 teams each year of her college career.
She wrapped up her career with statistics ranking her in the Top 10 of UCLA’s all-time records, including 9th in goals (31), 2nd in assists (32) and 6th in points (94).
In 2014, Mewis won the Honda Award, presented by the Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA) to the top female soccer player and signifies “the best of the best in collegiate athletics”. She became the second-straight Bruin to win the award after Dahlkemper was honored with it in 2013.
On the national stage, Mewis earned her first Full National Team cap in the 2014 Algarve Cup and is currently in January training camp with the Full National Team. In November, she was named a nominee for 2014 U.S. Soccer Young Player of the Year. Mewis won the 2013 Four Nations Tournament in 2013 with the U-23 U.S. Women’s National Team, the 2012 FIFA U-20 World Championship and the a silver medal in 2008 at the U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Following its first set of back-to-back picks at No. 3 and No. 4, Western New York again had consecutive picks at No. 6 and No. 7.
Williams, 21, comes to Western New York via Pepperdine University where she became one of the best players to go through the program. Her 24 career goals, 15 game-winning goals and 398 shots rank first in the Waves’ record books while her goal total (39) and points (102) rank second all-time.
“This whole day was something I have never experienced before,” Williams said from the draft room. “It’s really exciting but a little nerve-wracking today. I’m just really honored to get this opportunity.”
In her senior year, the forward led Pepperdine with 14 goals and 10 assists en route to an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. The Fresno, Calif. native earned three-straight All-WCC first team honors after finishing on the second team in her freshman year. After a junior season that was cut short by injury, Williams was named NSCAA All-West Region first team, her second-straight year earning the accolade.
Williams is also a two-sport athlete, competing in track and field during the spring season.
Hinkle, 21, joins the Flash after twice earning All-America honors at Texas Tech University. In four seasons, Hinkle helped lead the Red Raiders to three postseason appearances.
“I was honestly surprised and so excited to have the opportunity to be drafted into such a good organization today,” Hinkle said. “I’m hoping I’ll really be able to add an attacking presence from the left back and contribute to the success of the back line.”
At Texas Tech, Hinkle not only helped anchor a defense that posted nine shutouts, but also added four assists on the offensive end in her senior season. In 2014, Hinkle became the first Texas Tech player to be named Big-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year, also earning Academic All-American honors.
With 84 collegiate appearances, Hinkle totaled 19 assists and one goal.
Coleman, 21, was the Flash’s lone selection of the second round, coming out of the University of Central Florida.
“You think about all the hard work and the blood, sweat and tears you put into playing this beautiful sport. It’s just thrilling and it’s nice to see that hard work pay off,” Coleman said Friday. “I’m excited to head to New York for new experiences, new people and new coaches.”
Over her time at UCF, Coleman led the Knights to a 2013 AAC Championship and a school-record 18 wins in 2014. A native of Boca Raton, Fl., Coleman joined UCF after spending two seasons at Auburn. In her two seasons in Florida, the forward totaled 24 goals and 19 assists while being named NSCAA Second Team All-American and AAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2014. She also earned two NSCAA All-Region honors.
At Auburn, Coleman was named to the 2011 SEC All-Freshman and All-Academic Team and later earned 2012 All-SEC First Team.
This season, Coleman and UCF reached the Women’s College Cup Sweet 16 before bowing out to eventual National Champion, Florida State University.
The Flash wrapped up the 2015 NWSL College Draft in the third round, selecting D’Angelo, a goalkeeper out of the University of South Carolina.
A native of Welland, Ont., D’Angelo is a member of the Canadian National Team pool. At the youth level, the ‘keeper started her international career with a bronze medal at the 2008 CONCACAF U-17 Championship and later won gold during the 2010 tournament. In 2012, D’Angelo represented Canada at the U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup after winning the silver medal at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship.
In 2012, she was named Canadian U-20 Female Player of the Year.
“It’s a huge honor to be drafted. I didn’t think I was going to have the opportunity to get to play in the league,” D’Angelo said. “[My roommates and I] were just jumping up and down. It’s just really a huge honor and I’m excited for this opportunity.”
D’Angelo leaves the Gamecocks as the first two-time NSCAA First Team All-American and led the SEC with only 13 goals conceded in 2014. In the first round of the season’s NCAA tournament, D’Angelo made a key penalty kick stop to help South Carolina move on to the next round but an injury led to her missing the team’s next, and final, three games.
D’Angelo earned All-SEC honors every year at South Carolina and, in her rookie season, was honored as the SEC Freshman of the Year and Co-Defensive Player of the Year.
The Flash will kickoff preseason in March, with open tryouts slated for March 6-7. The 2015 Flash home season opens on May 2nd at Sahlen’s Stadium. Season tickets are now on sale by calling (716) 655-7529 or visiting www.wnyflash.com.