The Houston Dash have signed all four of their 2014 NWSL College Draft picks, it was announced today. Per club and league policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Forwards Kealia Ohai (2nd overall pick) and Rafaelle Souza (10th overall pick), defender Marissa Diggs (11th overall pick) and midfielder Jordan Jackson (28th overall pick) will now officially join the Dash ahead of the start of their inaugural season, set to open on Saturday, April 12 at BBVA Compass Stadium (7:00 p.m. kickoff, TICKETS) against Portland Thorns FC.
Ohai, 21, was a first-team All-American and semifinalist for the MAC Hermann trophy in her four-year career at the University of North Carolina. A Draper, Utah native, she helped lead the Tar Heels to the 2012 NCAA national championship as a junior and was named offensive Most Valuable Player of the NCAA College Cup. The 5-foot-5 striker scored 40 goals and tallied 26 assists in 86 career games at Chapel Hill. She also helped lead the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team to the FIFA U-20 World Cup title in 2012, scoring the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Germany.
“I’ve liked Kealia for years as we have competed against her many times while she was at UNC,” Dash head coach Randy Waldrum said. “I’ve had her in our U-23 WNT as well, and I think she has a very bright future for both the Dash and our USWNT. As she adapts to the pro league I think she’ll become a legitimate goal-scorer, as she has a nose for the goal.”
Originally from Salvador, Brazil, Souza capped her college career as Ole Miss’ all-time leading goal scorer with 44 goals in 61 career games. She enjoyed a prolific final season with the Rebels in 2013, scoring 22 goals (third most in NCAA Division I) and adding six assists as she was named a NSCAA second-team All-American, an All-Southeastern Conference selection and a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy (NCAA national player of the year). The 22-year-old Engineering major was twice named the SEC Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year, including 2013.
Souza will occupy an international spot and will be added to the roster pending the receipt of her P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC).
“Rafa is a player I think can change games based on her fluidity and technical abilities. She is extremely technical, and sees the game at a different level,” Waldrum said. “She was extremely successful in scoring goals throughout her college career at Ole Miss, and I see no reason why she can’t do the same for the Dash.”
Diggs was named American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and NSCAA third-team All-American in 2013. A native of Rowlett, Texas, she also earned Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year and NSCAA second-team All-American honors in 2012.
“Marissa has great athleticism, extremely competitive and is a warrior on the back line,” Waldrum remarked. “As she develops her attacking phase of the game, she’ll have a chance to be one of the premier defenders in the league.”
A product of the University of Nebraska, Jackson (Overland Park, Kan.) was named Big Ten Midfielder of the Year in 2013 after scoring nine goals and adding a league-high 12 assists. The 23-year-old was a NSCAA Scholar All-America third-team selection in 2013 and garnered Academic All-Big Ten honors in three seasons.
“One of the qualities that drew us to Jordan is that she can play any position on the field and is comparable to anyone in any of those spots,” Waldrum said. “She’s skillfull, intelligent and creative; we saw those attributes just in the first preseason game against Rice. The biggest thing for us, with the limits on roster space, will be her versatility as it’s rare to find someone who can play on all three lines.”
The Houston Dash will continue with their 2014 preseason with games against Texas Tech (Saturday, March 29 at 2 p.m.), Texas A&M (Wednesday, April 2 at 8:00 p.m.) and Houston Aces (Saturday, April 5 at 9:30 p.m.) For more information or to purchase tickets, please click here or call 713-276-GOAL.