The 2021 NWSL Draft took place on Wednesday, and there was Bruin representation in the proceedings, as the Orlando Pride selected midfielder Viviana Villacorta with the 9th overall pick, Kansas City picked defender Lucy Parker at No. 16 overall, and defender Delanie Sheehan was taken No. 33 overall by Sky Blue FC.
Villacorta leaves UCLA after three seasons in Westwood. Described as a “midfield metronome,” she played 71 games for the Bruins, tallying seven goals and 16 assists. She picked up All-Pac-12 second team honors in her sophomore and junior seasons.
A United States youth international, the Lawndale native joins an Orlando Pride team that will be looking to make a step up after a difficult 2020. The Pride was the only team that did not participate in the 2020 Challenge Cup, the bubble tournament that became the first professional sporting event in the United States, because the team had a coronavirus outbreak. But they will be looking to be competitive and perhaps even more in 2021, and Villacorta could see some playing time in her rookie season.
Parker is a defender who played one season at UCLA, in 2019, after transferring from LSU. With the Bruins, Parker made 24 appearances, scoring four goals to rank fourth on the team, and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection.
She’s an import, from Cambridge, England, and is an England youth international. That means she presumably has some flexibility in her professional ambitions, and could opt to play in her native England, but Kansas City, returning to the league after a few seasons out, need reinforcements all over their squad and could give Parker playing time quickly if she signs.
Sheehan was drafted on her birthday, taken by the New Jersey-based Sky Blue with the 3rd pick of the 3rd round. In 70 games across three seasons for the Bruins, she’s scored 11 goals and 13 assists. An All-Pac-12 third team selection in 2018 and a Pac-12 All-Freshman team honoree in 2017, she was also named to Top Drawer Soccer’s Freshman Best XI, as UCLA went to the College Cup title game that year.
The Brentwood native was selected by a Sky Blue team that is in the middle of a comprehensive rebuild, and while she is not guaranteed a professional deal, they have one of the shorter squads in the league and so she could find an opportunity if she gets an invitation to training camp.
UCLA’s three selections rank them tied for first in the draft in 2021 alongside UNC Chapel Hill and Washington State.