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Pro Prospects: DI players head abroad

Article Written by Travis Clark
Published: March 1, 2017

While NWSL preseason creeps closer and closer, Division I women’s soccer stars aren’t waiting around for domestic opportunities.

A slow trickle of senior stars has recently signed with clubs abroad. Earlier in the year, Carlyn Baldwin left Tennessee a year early, while Savannah Jordan signed in Scotland. Toni Payne agreed to join Ajax later this year, while Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence are now in France.

That quintet is simply the tip of the iceberg of last year’s college stars going pro outside the U.S.

California recently announced that midfielder Emma Fletcher will head to Norway, after signing a contract with Arna-Bjørnar.

"I'm super excited," the 22-year-old told calbears.com. "Norway seems like a really cool place. My teammate Guro Bergsvand is from Norway. She's told me lots of great things about the place, and it seems like a cool team."

Fletcher recently wrapped up a two-year stint at California, after transferring to the Pac-12 program ahead of the 2015 season. She garnered All-Pac-12 Second Team and an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention during both years in Berkeley.

"Playing at Cal has helped me grow so much as a player," Fletcher said. "It's helped me to become more disciplined and helped me highlight the areas I need to improve on in order to play professionally and be successful at the next level."

The Canadian national team player faced uphill odds to make an NWSL roster due to her international status, and will head to Scandinavia later this year. She’s the third player from Cal’s 2016 team to join the pro ranks, as Ari Ship (Washington Spirit) and Ifeoma Onumonu (Boston Breakers) were both selected in the 2017 NWSL draft. Other Cal alumni in the pro ranks include Alex Morgan (Olympique Lyonnais), Genessee Daughetee (Montepelier Hérault), Betsy Hassett (Ajax,) and Rachel Mercik (Vittsjö GIK).

Fletcher’s far from the only DI player from last fall to recently commit her future to the pro ranks. Santa Clara forward Brittany Ambrose, which played a key role in her team’s run to the NCAA quarterfinals, is heading to Japan. Ambrose, another Canadian player, will join Speranza FC of the Japanese Nadeshiko League.

Swinging out to the east, Wake Forest announced that midfield maestro Sarah Teegarden signed with Kopparbergs/Goteborg FC in the Damallsvenskan, Sweden’s top flight in women’s soccer.

"Sarah has worked incredibly hard for this professional contract and deserves it," Wake Forest head coach Tony da Luz said in a press release. "She was our most consistent performer over her four years at Wake Forest - incredibly reliable, disciplined, tough and possesses excellent character and work ethic. Her high percentage possession, ball-winning and smart distribution will fit well into the Swedish League. Goteborg FC has just made a great decision by signing Sarah. We wish her all the best in her pro career."

A deep-lying central midfielder that sat in front of the back four, Teegarden enjoyed a standout career with the Demons Deacons, even if the program failed to reach the heights of past teams. She was the only player from her senior class to start all 75 games, scoring nine goals and five assists.

No. 1 pick signs with the Breakers

One player that’s not going to turn towards an overseas club is No. 1 overall draft pick, Wisconsin midfielder Rose Lavelle.

The Boston Breakers announced on February 27 that she’s officially signed with the NWSL side.

“I’m super excited to join the Breakers,” Lavelle said in a press release. “I’m excited for the opportunity to grow as a player in this league, with this coaching staff, and with this team.”

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