Breakers land three players at 2016 NWSL Draft

(Jan. 15, 2016) – The 2016 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft was a success for the Breakers, who added three players during Friday’s draft, which was held at the NSCAA Convention in Baltimore.

“We had a strategy today, and I’m really pleased we managed to get players that we wanted to bring to the club,” Boston Breakers head coach Matt Beard said.

Draft day for the Breakers began with Portland Thorns FC trading the No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 NWSL Draft, No. 4 spot in the Allocation Ranking Order and future considerations to the Boston Breakers in exchange for the No. 1 spot in the Allocation Ranking Order.

With the No. 3 overall pick, the Breakers selected University of Florida defender Christen Westphal. The 5-foot, 6-inch Brecksville, Ohio native was a two-time NSCAA All-American with the Gators, starting in 95 of the 96 games she appeared in with 8,486 minutes played. The 22-year-old finished her career at Florida with four goals and 17 assists. Three of those goals and 13 of the assists came during her senior season of 2015.

No. 3 overall pick Christen Westphal

“She’s a player I like and admire, but we didn’t think we’d be in position (to draft her) previously with our pick being 17, but of course when the trade happened, we knew we were going to be the third pick, and she was someone I wanted to bring to the club,” Beard said. “We needed to bring in an outside back, a fullback. She can also play center back so she gives me some flexibility in regards to playing center back and right back. It’s an area we felt we needed to strengthen, and I think she’s one of the best kids in the country right now in those two positions. We are delighted we have managed to bring her here, and I’m excited to work with her.”

Westphal was an all SEC First Team selection in 2013, 2014, and 2015. She was recently called into the U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team for an upcoming camp in Carson, Calif. That camp runs from Jan. 18-25, and the U23s are scheduled to play the Republic of Ireland on Jan. 25.

“I’m extremely excited. This is a huge opportunity and something I’ve always dreamed of. It’s incredible that it’s come true,” Westphal said. “I’m focused on being able to play my best and make an impact coming in.”

In the second round, at No 17 overall, the Breakers drafted University of Virginia forward Brittany Ratcliffe.

“The Boston Breakers are a phenomenal organization, so it’s truly an honor to be drafted by them,” Ratcliffe said.

The 5-4 Williamstown, N.J. native scored 26 goals and had 16 assists in four seasons with the Cavaliers. She made 93 appearances, starting 50 of those games. Ratcliffe was a Third Team All-ACC selection in 2015.

“We are delighted that we were able to draft her,” Beard said. “We wanted a player who could beat players, create goals, and score goals, and she ticks the boxes.”

Virginia forward Brittany Ratcliffe

The Breakers ended draft day by making a trade with the Chicago Red Stars, acquiring the No. 27 overall pick in exchange for Boston’s Nos. 32 and 35 picks in the 2016 NWSL College Draft. In the third round, with that No. 27 pick, the Breakers selected University of Texas goalkeeper Abby Smith.

“It’s such an honor. I’m so excited to get started. It’s something I’ve been waiting for for a long time,” Smith said. “I was following the draft and saw all the names being called. I was holding my breath, praying something great would happen, and it did.”

The 5-9 Plano, Texas native led the Big 12 in saves in 2015 and is a two-time Big 12 All Conference selection. She was a national finalist for the 2015 Senior CLASS Award. Smith made headlines in 2015 for scoring a goal, the third or her career, in a match against Miami (FL), and it was the match-winner, struck from more than 90 yards out in a 1-0 win. Smith is heading to Carson, Calif. Jan. 18-25 to train with the U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team ahead of its game on Jan. 25 against the Republic of Ireland.

Texas goalkeeper Abby Smith

“She’s got the potential to go all the way,” Beard said of Smith. “But with all these young players that were drafted today, I think the most important thing is we allow them to come in, be themselves, and come in with no fear. That’s something we’re trying to create for the younger players. It’s a big step up coming from college, but I’m comfortable that all three can do that.”

Season tickets for 2016 are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting breakerstickets.com or by calling 617-945-1704.

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