CHICAGO (Jan. 10, 2019) — A large group of former US Youth Soccer players heard their names called on Thursday at the 2019 NWSL College Draft in Chicago. Of the 36 players drafted, 32 played in US Youth Soccer programs, including six who won US Youth Soccer National Championships.
The draft also featured 10 players who competed on teams in the US Youth Soccer National League during their youth careers, including Samantha Staab, who was selected with the fourth pick by the Washington Spirit. Staab excelled at the highest level of youth soccer, as she twice won the US Youth Soccer National Championship with DMCV Sharks Elite (CA-S) and claimed two National League division titles. Her DMCV teammate, Hailey Harbison, was also selected in the first round of the draft, as she went ninth to the North Carolina Courage.
“I still remember every one of those trips like they were yesterday,” Staab said of playing in the National League and the National Championships with DMCV. “Those are some of the best memories that I cherish. I love all of those girls. They’ve become like sisters to me. I think it’s so amazing to see us here and it’s a testament to [coach] Felicia Kappes and who she is and how she pushed us to be better.”
While at the stage just moments after hearing their names announced to begin their professional careers, both Staab and Harbison mentioned Kappes and the impact she and the DMCV team had on their careers to this point.
“That means more than the soccer itself,” said Kappes, who attended the draft in Chicago, of hearing her former players talk about her impact on them. “It means more than winning the championships. I said I would always be in their lives, and I will. It’s like they’re my daughters. It means the world.”
In addition to Staab and Harbison, who claimed national titles in 2013 and 2014, four other draft picks won National Championships during their youth careers. Julie James, the No. 11 pick, and Kaycie Tillman, the 36th pick, each won a title in 2014 with Sting SC (TX-N). Meanwhile, No. 12 pick Ally Prisock won a 2012 National title with Legends FC (CA-S), and No. 28 pick Kaylan Marckese was the championship-winning goalkeeper for Tampa Bay United (FL) in 2015.
Prisock and Marckese, like Staab and Harbison, each played multiple seasons with their respective sides in the National League. With the top US Youth Soccer teams from across the country meeting each season, the National League provided the players with a chance to test themselves in an environment similar to what they would face in college.
“That was the first big competition that I had ever been a part of,” said No. 24 pick Emily Ogle, who was among the leading scorers in her age group both years she played in the National League. “I think you need events like that to learn and to grow and to challenge yourself. I think I definitely got that throughout my youth career in the National League.”
2019 NWSL Draft | US Youth Soccer National League Alumnae
Samantha Staab, DMCV Sharks Elite (CA-S)
Julia Ashley, Match Fit Academy Colchesters (NJ)
Hailey Harbison, DMCV Sharks Elite (CA-S)
Ally Prisock, Legends FC (CA-S)
Bayley Feist, Kings Hammer Academy (OH-S)
Emily Ogle, Internationals SC (OH-N)
Maddie Nolf, Elite Girls Academy (NE)
Kaylan Marckese, Tampa Bay United (FL)
Sabrina Flores, SDFC (NJ)
More from some of the players and coaches:
No. 9 Pick - Hailey Harbison (Pepperdine), DMCV Sharks Elite (CA-S)
On playing in the National League:
The competition there was always really hard for us. Especially with us and Legends always going back and forth. That was really good competition for us and showed the National League was a really good league to be in.
On the National League hashtag:
Earn your place — it shows you have to work hard. You can’t just get here by only being talented. You have to push yourself and really earn your spot.
No. 12 Pick - Ally Prisock (USC), Legends FC (CA-S)
On playing at a high level with Legends FC:
Playing youth soccer for Legends FC was really fun. It helped me grow at a young age. We played against really good competition, and I met some of my best friends.
On the National League:
Playing in the National League definitely helped prepare me. We played in really big games. It got me ready for college, so going into it, I knew what expect.
DMCV Sharks Elite (CA-S) coach Felecia Kappes
On having two players selected in the first round:
I’m so proud of them. I’m proud of how hard they worked when they played with me, but we said the best is yet to come. This is like the pinnacle of everything.
On what the National League meant to her team:
National League was the best thing that ever happened to us. It took us to another level to compete at the highest level — to continue their growth and development. We’re forever grateful that we got into the National League. We didn’t know how important it was going to be, but in the end it was everything that took them to the next level to prepare for D-I college soccer. Now, they’re first-round draft picks. It’s pretty great.
No. 24 Pick - Emily Ogle (Penn State), Internationals SC (OH-N)
On playing at a high level in her youth career:
It definitely all starts when you’re a youth player and you’re going to tournaments and events against some of the best players in the country. I have Internationals to thank for that. It was my foundation that helped shape me and guide me in the right direction for the rest of my career.