On Friday, the National Women’s Soccer League held a four round, 36-player draft. The NWSL, which will enter its third year of play on April 10, had representatives of its nine teams converge in Philadelphia after months of scouting. The league already features several distinguished Stanford alumni, including Christen Press, Rachel Quon, Kelley O’Hara, Cami Levin and Mariah Nogueira, among others.
It will now include three more members of the Cardinal as forward Chioma Ubogagu, midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta and defender Kendall Romine will now continue their soccer careers at the professional level. All three Cardinal were selected in the fourth round and within eight picks of each other. Ubogagu was the first to be picked with the 28th overall pick by the Sky Blue FC, hailing from New Jersey. Three picks later, LaBonta would be taken with the 31st overall pick. LaBonta, who was the leading goal scorer (13) and point-getter (31) this year for the Cardinal, will remain teammates with Ubogagu and join her in New Jersey with Sky Blue FC. Romine was the third Cardinal player selected in the draft and was taken with the 36th overall pick by Seattle Reign FC, where she will play with the likes of USWNT players like Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe.
All three women had fantastic careers for the Cardinal. LaBonta, in addition to being the leading goal scorer this year, was also a second-team All-American, a first-team Pac-12 player and a member of the College Cup All-Tournament team. She was also one of the leaders of the team that went to the four-team College Cup and a member of the 2011 National Championship team. Ubogagu finishes her Stanford career as the 10th on the list of all-time point scorers in Cardinal history with 89 tallied goals and assists and an was All-Pac 12 team member for all four years of her collegiate career. Romine, also a member of the championship team in 2011 and a key player in the 2014 College Cup appearance, was also a perennial fixture in the team’s record-setting defense for the entirety of her tenure at the Farm. She was an essential piece of a squad that kept a clean sheet for a record 10 straight matches and conceded only 14 goals all season long.
Ubogagu will bring her pace, vision and ethereal moves to the professional level, where she will almost certainly retain her position as a dangerous winger who can attack the goal and supply crosses from down the line. LaBonta’s role will likely be less straightforward, as her well-rounded game allows her to play anywhere in the midfield; she will most likely be asked to play a central role where she can contribute early on as a holding midfielder where she will be allowed to distribute and unleash her vicious shots from long range squared up to the front of goal. Romine has a variety of skills and has the ability to play several positions. She projects as a utility player that can fill in anywhere from the midfield (likely as a defensive midfielder) to left or right back to center back. She has the height and leaping ability to defend against crosses and to be a danger in the air on the attacking end.
As the illustrious Stanford careers of these three women come to a close, it is only fitting that they should bring their skills to the next level and the burgeoning National Women’s Soccer League that has been extraordinarily successful in just its third year. LaBonta, Ubogagu and Romine will have the chance to compete at the highest level and will also have a chance to represent their country at the national level. Ubogagu will graduate with her degree in film and media studies, while also taking her pre-med requirements. LaBonta will graduate with a degree in product design and Romine will graduate with both an undergraduate and master’s in international relations.
Contact Nic Radoff at nradoff ‘at’ stanford.edu.