Oct. 6, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - University of Tennessee women's soccer assistant coach Keeley Dowling was selected as the first pick of the second round in the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) draft on Monday. The former Lady Vol All-American was chosen as the eighth overall pick by the New Jersey/New York franchise, Sky Blue FC.
The 2005 Tennessee graduate last played professionally in Örebro, Sweden from 2006-07, after spending a season with the Charlotte Lady Eagles of the W-League. During her time with KIF Örebro, Dowling played against former U.S. National Team member Tiffeny Milbrett and 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year, Marta, of Brazil.
Last April, Dowling signed a contract with the U.S. Women's National Team. The contract guarantees the Carmel, Ind., native an opportunity to compete for a roster spot whenever the team plays. Dowling won gold medals at the 2004 Nordic Cup with the Under-21 National Team and with the Under-19 National Team at the 2002 World Championships.
During her playing days at Tennessee, Dowling was the Lady Vols' first National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-American, earning three selections including two to the first team in 2003 and 2004. The defender was a two-time Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year and helped UT to its first NCAA Tournament appearance, as well as its initial NCAA Sweet 16 berth, SEC Tournament Championship and SEC Triple Crown. Dowling finished her career with 65 points on 25 goals and 15 assists, and still ranks eighth all-time in career points and third in matches started with 89.
Dowling joins a Sky Blue FC roster that includes fellow draft selections goalkeeper Cori Alexander, midfielder Kacey White and defender Jenny Anderson-Hammond, as well as 2008 U.S. Olympic gold medalists Natasha Kai, Christie Rampone and Heather O'Reilly. Three players on the roster were members of NCAA National Championship teams during their college careers, while 10 have earned at least one cap with their home country's full national team.
Following the collapse of the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) in 2003, the WPS was formed in 2007 and represents the highest level of women's professional soccer in the United States. The inaugural season is scheduled to begin in April 2009. The league will feature teams in seven markets in 2009 -New Jersey/New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area. Franchises in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Dallas are planned for the 2010 campaign. NBA veteran and two-time Most Valuable Player Steve Nash and former Yahoo! President and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Mallett are among the league's investors and part owners.