Friday, October 31, 2014
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Penn State women's soccer star Christine Nairn drafted by National Women's Soccer League's Seattle Reign

She'll join Megan Rapinoe and Amy Rodriguez in what looks to be a formidable attacking lineup.

Penn State women’s soccer star Christine Nairn drafted by National Women’s Soccer League’s Seattle Reign

Christine Nairn helped lead Penn State´s women´s soccer team to the championship game of this past season´s College Cup. (Gregory Bull/AP file photo)
Christine Nairn helped lead Penn State's women's soccer team to the championship game of this past season's College Cup. (Gregory Bull/AP file photo)

INDIANAPOLIS - I came to the inaugural National Women's Soccer League draft not really sure what I wanted to write about.

There was no real spectacle to take in, as only two of the 32 selections on the day were present in the room. In fact, the media was walled off entirely from the eight NWSL teams' coaches and general managers as they made their selections.

But I had a hunch that at some point, some college players from the Philadelphia region would be drafted. That hunch proved correct, as three players - Penn State's Christine Nairn and Maddy Evans and Princeton's Jen Hoy - were selected.

You can see the draft results in full here.

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Nairn, one of the few big names in the draft pool, was a first-round pick by the Seattle Reign. The native of Arnold, Md., already has experience with the senior U.S. women's national team, having won two caps in 2009. She previously played on the 2008 U.S. women's under-20 team which won that year's FIFA world championship.

Upon arriving in Seattle, Nairn will help form what looks to be a stacked midfield. Her teammates will include Megan Rapinoe (when she returns to the United States from French club Olympique Lyon), Mexico's Teresa Noyola and Canada's Kaylyn Kyle.

Expect former Independence star forward Amy Rodriguez to get a lot of great service at the top of the Reign's attack.

The U.S. Soccer Federation, which administered the draft (and is administering all of the front office functions of the league), got all of the first-round selections to do conference calls with reporters in the media room and a few more who called in. Nairn spent a few minutes chatting with us, and here are some highlights of what she had to say.

On heading to Seattle, which has one of the best soccer cultures of any city in the United States:

I'm very excited to go to Seattle. I'm a huge MLS fan, so I've watched the Seattle Sounders and what they've done with that program, and I couldn't be more excited to be going to such a soccer-fanatic city.

I just got off the phone with my dad, and I think he's actually more excited than me that I'm going to such a great soccer community, and to represent the Reign as best as I can for as long as I can.

I can't say that I'd rather go to a different place, because I'm just thrilled for the opportunities ahead, and what I can do there.

On playing for Reign coach Laura Harvey, who came to Seattle from English powerhouse Arsenal:

My coach [at Penn State], Erica Walsh, has nothing but good things to say about her and what she's done for Arsenal. I've done my research and everybody says she's one-of-a-kind. I'm excited to be coached by her and learn a lot of things about my game from a European aspect that I can improve.

On what the NWSL can do for college players who are on the cusp of gaining recognition from the senior U.S. women's national team:

I think it exposes us to the new U.S. coach [Tom Sermanni]. I think he's going in with an open mind, scouting a bunch of players and seeing what American soccer is and what youth is coming through into the professional league.

On her strengths as a player:

I would say that I played in college as an attacking midfielder, predominantly left-footed. I can shoot, I can pass, but I think what's most important to me is making the players around me better. For us to play better as a team is one of my goals...

That's what I've tried to do at Penn State and it got us to the national championship [game, where they lost to North Carolina] this year.

Going from college to professional, I think that transition can be a little tricky. I'm all on board with this and am excited to be a part of this program... I can't wait to see how these fans react to our new league.

On what she knows about her new Reign teammates:

I've played a little bit with the senior [U.S. women's national] team for a few years in college, in and out, and I've been playing with Teresa [Noyola] since we were 14 years old.

So I think I mesh very well with several players. They're possession-oriented, especially Teresa and [Megan] Rapinoe. I think I fit in perfectly with that team - we're very attacking-minded, and I think we'll be very exciting to watch. Hopefully we're going to score a lot of goals and really put some fans in the seats.

This is a great fit for me, and hopefully what I bring to the table will be good enough to win us a championship in our first year.

On what players coming into the league have said to each other about which cities in the league they wanted to play for, and whether Seattle and Portland were more often preferred as potential destinations:

I can't really speak for a lot of the college players that are getting drafted. But I know from my time with the senior [national] team, I've only heard good things from that area of the country about how crazy and awesome the fans are.

When I was at Penn State, we played at [the University of] Portland, and I have never seen fans like that. So those people will only increase the interest for women's professional soccer, and I cannot be more excited to represent a team that invests and really makes the fans that "12th Man" ... It's the destination that a lot of national team players wanted.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, U.S. national teams and the rest of the world's most popular sport. It's also a place for fans to gather and celebrate the culture of soccer and its unique place on the sports landscape.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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