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ND Soccer: Three men, one woman selected in professional draft

Douglas Farmer and Laura Myers | Monday, January 18, 2010

Three Notre Dame men were selected in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft Thursday and one Irish woman was selected in the Women’s Professional Soccer draft on Friday.  Both drafts were held in Philadelphia.

Forward Bright Dike was drafted in the first round by the Columbus Crew with the 12th overall selection. Midfielder Michael Thomas and left back Justin Morrow were both chosen in the second round by the San Jose Earthquakes. Thomas was the 19th overall pick and Morrow the 28th overall pick.

“It’s everybody’s dream to play in the MLS when you’re younger, and now it’s a reality,” Thomas, a two-time captain for the Irish, said.

This was just the second draft in the program’s history in which three men were selected. It also happened in 2005.

“I thought there was a good chance they’d get selected,” men’s coach Bobby Clark said. “But to get three is pretty impressive. I’m happy for them and the program.”

Dike, the 2009 Big East Offensive Player of the Year, led the Irish in goals (11) and points (26) as a fifth-year senior in the 2009 season. In his college career, he was a two-time first-team all-Big East selection and a two-time all-region selection. In his career he scored 27 goals and had 12 assists.

Thomas, who started 81 of 83 career matches with the Irish, led the team in assists in 2009 with six and also scored six goals. He was also a two-time all-region selection and earned first-team all-Big East honors in 2009. In 2008, he was a second-team all-conference selection.

Morrow, also a team captain in 2009, notched two goals and one assist in his first year as a defender after playing midfielder earlier in his career. He earned second team all-Big East honors. He played in 89 games throughout his career, starting 64 of them.

Morrow said he was worried about whether he would get drafted after hearing his teammates’ names. However, he said he was relieved to find out where he will play.

“I’m ready to go out to California and play soccer,” he said. “It’s a huge soccer state and I’m pretty excited about that. I know the fans are going to be great.”

Morrow and Thomas agreed that it would be nice to play on a team together.

“That was a great feeling,” Thomas said. “We’re both really good friends, we’re teammates, we were roommates last year. Hopefully we’ll be playing together for a long time.”

Clark said he thinks the players will do well no matter where they land.

“I think at the end of the day they’re all strong enough personalities that they’ll all handle their situations well,” he said. “They’re really good people.”

On the women’s side, forward Michele Weissenhofer became the seventh Notre Dame player drafted in the past two years. Weissenhofer was selected in the fourth round by the Chicago Red Stars with the 33rd overall pick.

“I think [Weissenhofer’s being drafted] speaks volumes about the quality that [Notre Dame is] putting out,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “And where we are and what people think of the kind of players we are producing here.”

Weissenhofer, a Naperville, Ill., native, said she was excited to play for a team so close to home. The Red Stars play in Bridgeview, Ill., a mere half-hour east of Naperville.

“I was really hoping to go to Chicago,” she said. “I know how blessed and fortunate I am to be able to play at my hometown with my friends and family all being there to support me.”

Weissenhofer amassed 30 goals and 27 assists in her time at Notre Dame, which was hampered by injuries throughout, including two pulled hamstrings during her senior year. Weissenhofer was named Soccer America national freshman of the year in 2006 with 18 goals and 17 assists in her first season.

Waldrum said it is neither the injuries nor the outstanding freshman season he will remember most about Weissenhofer’s career at Notre Dame.

“The one thing I think I’ll remember her career for is she was very good for us every year in the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “She always seemed to catch fire at the right time of year.”