The Houston Dash announced Friday the team will add all four of its 2014 college draft picks to their roster ahead of the team's first game of the season April 12.
In a press release Friday, March 28, the organization announced the addition of forward Kealia Ohai and Rafaelle Souza, defender Marissa Diggs and midfielder Jordan Jackson.
Second over-all pick of the 2014 draft, Ohai, 21, was a first-team All-American and semifinalist for the MAC Hermann trophy in her four-year career at the University of North Carolina. She was named the offensive Most Valuable Player of the NCAA College Cup and was a part of the 2012 NCAA national championship Tar Heels team. The striker has scored 40 goals and notched 26 assists in 86 career games. She's also helped lead the U.S. U-20 Women's National Team to the U-20 World Cup title in 2012, netting the only goal in the 1-0 victory against Germany.
"I’ve liked Kealia for years as we have competed against her many times while she was at UNC," Dash head coach Randy Waldrum said in a press release. "I’ve had her in our U-23 WNT as well, and I think she has a very bright future for both the Dash and our USWNT. As she adapts to the pro league I think she’ll become a legitimate goal-scorer, as she has a nose for the goal."
Souza - hailing from Salvador, Brazil - ended her college career at Ole Miss as the school's all-time leading goal scorer with 44 goals in 61 career games. She netted 22 goals in 2013 - the third most in NCAA Division I - and grabbed six assists. She was named a NSCAA second-team All-American, an All-Southeastern Conference selection and a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy (NCAA national player of the year). Souza has also been twice named the SEC Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the year.
Her addition to the team will occupy an international spot, according to the Dash, and will be added to the roster pending receipt of her P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate.
"Rafa is a player I think can change games based on her fluidity and technical abilities. She is extremely technical, and sees the game at a different level," Waldrum said. "She was extremely successful in scoring goals throughout her college career at Ole Miss, and I see no reason why she can’t do the same for the Dash."
Diggs was named American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and NSCAA third-team All-American in 2013. The Texas native has also earned Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year and NSCAA second-team All-American honors in 2012.
"Marissa has great athleticism, extremely competitive and is a warrior on the back line," Waldrum added. "As she develops her attacking phase of the game, she’ll have a chance to be one of the premier defenders in the league."
University of Nebraska midfielder Jackson earned the title of Big Ten Midfielder of teh Year in 2013 after notching nine goals and adding a league-high 12 assists. The 23-year-old was a NSCAA Scholar All-America third-team selection last year and earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in three seasons.
"One of the qualities that drew us to Jordan is that she can play any position on the field and is comparable to anyone in any of those spots," Waldrum said. "She’s skillfull, intelligent and creative; we saw those attributes just in the first preseason game against Rice. The biggest thing for us, with the limits on roster space, will be her versatility as it’s rare to find someone who can play on all three lines."
Preseason for the Houston Dash will continue with games against Texas Tech Saturday, March 29; Texas A&M Wednesday, April 2 and Houston Aces Saturday, April 5.