The Chicago Red Stars went on the attack mode in the first National Women's Soccer League college draft, taking Pac-12 Player of the Year Zakiya Bywaters of UCLA with the No. 1 overall pick.
The 5-foot-1 midfielder/forward combination of speed and technical skills helped her score 15 goals during her senior season, catapulting her to the top of Friday's draft class in Indianapolis.
"My dreams came true," Bywaters said in a statement released Monday. "I'm just very humbled and excited. I'm very grateful that the Red Stars have chosen me to be on their team."
Chicago head coach Rory Dames said he was looking to add a creative, attacking player to line up this spring.
"On the field she possesses a great combination of technique and pace. She has the ability to play multiple positions and we believe will push hard to be on the 2015 World Cup roster (for the U.S. Women's National Team). Off the field, she is a great kid with an incredible attitude and we believe she will represent the Red Stars organization with great pride."
The Red Stars also had the first pick in each of the subsequent 3 rounds of the NWSL college draft. With the No. 9 overall pick, the Red Stars selected Lake Forest-native Rachel Quon from Stanford. The attack-minded outside defender will help round out a Red Stars defense that already includes two Canadian national team members, goalkeeper Erin McLeod and center back Carmelina Moscato. Quon had multiple trips to the College Cup during her very successful career at Stanford, including a national championship in 2011.
With the No. 17 overall pick, the Red Stars selected goalkeeper Taylor Vancil from Florida State, a native of South Elgin who is a familiar face for the Red Stars having played on their 2011 WPSL team. With their final pick and No. 25 overall selection, the Red Stars drafted Jen Hoy, a high-scoring forward from Princeton who notched 18 goals in 2012 en route to Ivy League Player of the Year honors.