Kendall Johnson drafted to Sky Blue FC

By The Beacon | January 23, 2013 9:00pm

Redshirt junior defender Kendall Johnson decided to forego her last year of eligibility for the women’s soccer team after being drafted to the National Women’s Soccer League by Sky Blue FC of New Jers

Redshirt junior defender Kendall Johnson weaves around a San Diego State defender early in the season. Johnson leaves the Pilots after being named the WCC Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 (Stephanie Matusiefsky | THE BEACON)

By PJ Marcello, Staff Writer

Robert H. Schuller once said, "High achievers spot rich opportunities swiftly, make big decisions quickly and move into action immediately. Follow these principles and you can make your dreams come true." Schuller never knew Kendall Johnson, but if he did he would likely thank her for proving him right.

On Jan. 16, at 6 a.m., the National Women's Soccer League held its first college draft since forming in June of 2012. University of Portland's own Kendall Johnson was among those who elected to enter the draft. Sky Blue FC of New Jersey selected Johnson with the fourth pick of the second round (12th overall), where she will play alongside fellow former Pilot Sophie Schmidt.

"I am very excited, my teammates are actually up watching the draft with me," Johnson said. "I didn't expect to go this high at all. I love Portland but I think it will be a good change."

Johnson's decision was based on the timing of her graduating school in the fall of 2012 and the opportunity of the new league. The choice also means she will forgo her final year of eligibility as a redshirt senior.

"It has always been a dream of mine to play professionally," Johnson said. "I want to challenge myself as much as possible and this felt like the right time."

The UP women's soccer team Head Coach Garrett Smith agrees that timing was a key factor in Johnson's choice.

"Your window for playing is finite. In Kendall's case, she has been here for four years, she has finished her degree, and I think because of the excitement of a new league starting up, the timing was right for her," Smith said.

Johnson also credits Smith and the UP soccer program's professionalism in helping her prepare for the next level.

"The (UP) team has taught me a lot about how to carry myself, so I'll be able to use that in my professional career," Johnson said.

At UP, Johnson has produced a robust résumé. This season she was awarded the WCC Defensive Player of the Year, received All-WCC First Team honors and was selected to the NCAA All-West Region Team.

Johnson finishes her career with the Pilots with eight goals, including four game winners, and 11 assists in 56 games. She was also the conference Co-Freshman of the Year in 2009 and was a Freshman All-American.

With all of the success and accolades garnered, teammate Ellen Parker believes that Johnson has a lot to offer her Sky Blue FC and has the potential for national recognition.

"I think she will bring a lot of excitement and energy with her hard work and willingness to be put into any position and do well there," Parker said. "She has a bright future in the pro's and also potential to be on the national team. She has the talent to play on that level; it all just depends on what individual coaches will look for."

Smith is also confident that Johnson has what it takes to make it as a professional.

"People are aware of her from her time here as well as her involvement on the U-20 national teams. She's succeeded everywhere she's played so I know she'll be a commodity," Smith said.

No matter where Johnson's career goes, her four years in purple and white will remain special to her.

"I'll miss my teammates and playing on Merlo field with all the fans and the Villa Drum squad - the whole atmosphere," said Johnson.