Sky Blue FC had a busy night at the National Women’s Soccer League draft Wednesday night.
During the first round, the club selected University of North Carolina midfielder Brianna Pinto with the third overall pick, acquired $175,000 in allocation money for the fourth overall selectiion, and obtained $100,000 in allocation money and the 2022 natural second-round draft pick from the Washington Spirit.
Sky Blue then acquired midfielder Jennifer Cudjoe from Racing Louisville FC as previously announced, selected midfielder Taryn Torres with the 23rd overall choice, took defender Delanie Sheehan at 33rd overall and finished off the draft by selecting midfielder-forward Tess Boade with the 40th overall pick.
“It has been a fantastic day for Sky Blue during what was an extraordinary draft in unusual circumstances,” General Manager Alyse LaHue said in a statement. “Congratulations to all the draftees, especially to those we are so thrilled to have join our Club: Brianna, Taryn, Delanie, and Tess. Having the opportunity to also bring Jennifer Cudjoe back was a great bright spot on the evening.
“I also want to commend the NWSL for all their tremendous work on putting this together and having an incredible broadcast and draft experience.”
Pinto, 20, entered the draft as a junior out of the UNC. She had stated her desire to play the spring collegiate season this year and would join the squad upon conclusion. As a college freshman, Pinto was named to the first-team All-Atlantic Coast Confereence and the All-ACC freshman team. A year later, she made a repeat selection to the first-team All-ACC in her sophomore year. Pinto was a Hermann Trophy semifinalist as a junior and was named the 2019 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year.
In her UNC career, Pinto has started 64 of her 65 matches, scored 23 goals with six of them being game-winners, and notched 16 assists in 3,705 minutes.
“It is an honor, a privilege, and a dream come true,” said Pinto. “[Being drafted by Sky Blue] is going to be something that I remember forever.”
Despite being only 20 years old, Pinto has already had an incredible career on the international stage. She has trained with the U.S. U-14, U-17, U-19, U-20, & U-23 Women’s National Teams. Pinto played on both the U.S. U-17 and U-20 FIFA World Cup teams in 2016 and 2018. She made her debut for the full USWNT in 2017 when she was named to the 2017 She Believes Cup roster at just 16 years old.
Torres, 21, has featured for the University of Virginia as a midfielder since 2017. As a freshman, she was named to the All-ACC third team and was an All-Freshman selection. Torres was named an All-ACC Third Team selection for the second year in a row as a sophomore and an All-ACC Second Team selection in her junior year. She has played on the international stage for the U.S. as a member of the U-15, U-17, and U-19 Women’s National Teams. Thus far in her collegiate career, Torres has started 60 of her 64 matches, scored 11 goals with three of them being game-winners, and notched 10 assists in 4,538 minutes.
Sheehan, a versatile defender out of UCLA, has featured for the U.S. on the Under-18, U-19, and U-20 women’s national teams. She was a Pac-12 All-Freshman honoree in 2017 and was named to the All-Pac-12 third team the following year. Through her junior year, Sheehan has started in 54 of her 70 matches, scored 11 goals with four of them as game-winners, and recorded 13 assists in 4,857 minutes.
Boade, a senior at Duke University, has featured for the team as a forward and midfielder. She has played internationally for the U.S. on the U-15, U-17, U-18, and U-19 Women’s National Teams. In her 60 total matches, Boade started 37 of them and scored ten goals with one being a game-winner while notching eight assists in 3,793 minutes.
“I am really happy with another great draft day for Sky Blue,” said Head Coach Freya Coombe. “We were able to get our top targets and welcome the return of Jennifer Cudjoe. We have also been able to acquire allocation money to continue the development of the roster.”
Sky Blue FC begins the pre-season Feb. 1, with the NWSL Challenge Cup set to kickoff mid-April. The team is preparing for a 24-match season in 2021, starting in mid-May.