After finishing seventh in the 2016 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), head coach, Christie Holly decided to add some new faces to the Sky Blue FC backline. Sky Blue added a goalkeeper and two defenders to their existing two goalkeepers and seven defenders.
The nine players who made up Sky Blue’s defense in 2016 are goalkeepers: Caroline Casey and Caroline Stanely, and defenders: CoCo Goodson, Kristin Grubka, Maya Hayes, Kelley O’Hara, Christie Rampone, Erin Simon, and Erica Skroski.
Sky Blue FC drafted six total players in the 2017 NWSL College Draft: Catrina Atanda, Mandy Freeman, Kayla Mills, McKenzie Meehan, Kailen Sheridan, and Madison Tiernan. Three of the six players drafted can contribute to Sky Blue’s defense.
Freeman, a Florida native, will return to the east coast after she spent her college career at the University of Southern California. Freeman was a part of the Trojans victory over the University of Virginia Mountaineers for the 2016 NCAA Women’s College Cup. Freeman was taken no. 10 overall in the 2017 NWSL College Draft. She has also spent time with U-23 Women’s National Team. Most recently being named to the U-23 roster that will travel to Spain for friendly matches against Japan (March 1), England (March 4), and Norway (March 7).
Mills, who played with Freeman at USC and on the U-23’s, will be joining her teammate on the backline for Sky Blue FC. Christie Holly and Sky Blue selected Mills no. 4 overall in the NWSL College Draft. Mills has been in the U.S. Youth National Team system, she too will be heading to Spain in March for the U-23 team’s series of friendlies.
Sheridan was drafted no. 23 overall out of Clemson University. Sheridan is a goalkeeper from Whitby, Ontario, Canada. While at Clemson, Sheridan has made 76 appearances in goal for the tigers, recording 229 saves. Of her 76 games played in, 28 of those games were shutouts. She also has two career assists. In addition to playing collegiately, Sheridan plays for her country. She made her debut with the Canadian Senior National Team in March of 2016 during the Algarve Cup. The Canadian Women’s National Team went on to win the 2016 Algarve Cup.
Sky Blue has all seven of their defenders and their two goalkeepers returning this season. Christie Rampone recently announced that this will be her last season playing in the NWSL. She has been with Sky Blue FC since the inaugural season of the NWSL. Her leadership on and off the field is sure to be missed.
Goalkeeper, Caroline Casey, was drafted by Sky Blue in 2016. Casey played for William and Mary recording 301 saves and 48 wins.
Kelley O’Hara, defender, will be playing her in fifth season with Sky Blue FC. O’Hara was a part of both the 2011 and 2015 U.S. Women’s National Team World Cup squads. She also was named to the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams. In 2012, O’Hara played every minute of all six matches of the Olympic tournament. Her first goal with the National Team came in 2015 World Cup semifinal game against Germany to put them up 2-1.
Erica Skroski, defender, was taken by Sky Blue FC in the 2016 College Draft, playing her first season in the NWSL last year. Skroski was also selected for the U-23 roster, and will be playing along Mills and Freeman.
Caroline Stanley, goalkeeper, will be playing her second season with Sky Blue. Stanley, like Mills and Freeman, attended USC. In her senior season she played 21 games in a row while having six shutouts.
All of these additions should bring much needed competition to the Sky Blue roster.