Kiki Pickett selected 4th overall in 2021 NWSL draft

The star defender will head to Kansas City following this year’s NCAA season

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Senior defender Kiara “Kiki” Pickett was selected fourth in the National Women’s Soccer League 2021 Draft by Kansas City (previously Utah Royals). Although it seemed that Sky Blue FC would secure Pickett, Kansas City made a thrilling last-minute trade with the New Jersey team, giving $175,000 in allocation money in exchange for the fourth overall pick. Pickett now becomes the 43rd Stanford Women’s Soccer player to enter the domestic league.

Although Pickett has been drafted, she will still return to Stanford to compete in the NCAA spring soccer season, assuming that public health guidelines permit. Because of the postponed soccer season, the NCAA has approved a waiver requested by the NWSL that allows drafted players to choose whether they will go to their team before or after the collegiate season. Players must make their decision by Jan. 22. Women’s soccer has been on campus since Jan. 4.

Pickett turns professional after a supremely successful career on the Farm. During her time, the Cardinal amassed a combined record of 69-2-3 and secured two NCAA championships and three Pac-12 titles. In November of 2019, Pickett attended a U.S. Women’s National Team training camp alongside fellow Cardinal junior defender Naomi Girma, senior forward Madison Haley and forward Sophia Smith. Pickett also has national team experience, as she played for the U-20 national team. 

FC Kansas City, then the Utah Royals, finished the 2019 season with a 10-10-4 record and sixth place overall. Although it seemed the Royals had a fair chance at winning the NWSL Challenge Cup, they were taken out early by the eventual champion Houston Dash. 

Last year’s team also had an impressive defensive roster, including national team players Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara and Christen Press ’11. However, given that Press has moved to Europe, Kelley O’Hara to Washington Spirit and Sauerbrunn to the Portland Thorns, Pickett will be essential in compensating for their absence and fill a void on the roster. Pickett will also play alongside midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta ’15 and goalkeeper Nicole Barnhar ’04.

For now, Pickett will remain with her Cardinal squad looking to secure another NCAA championship. After also losing senior forward Catarina Macario to Lyon earlier this week and forward Sophia Smith to the Portland Thorns last January, Stanford will have to rely more heavily upon players like Pickett, Girma and Haley in the 2021 season.

Contact Samantha Leventis at samantha040602 ‘at’ gmail.com.

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