When the National Women’s Soccer League holds its ninth annual college draft on Wednesday, one Cadet from West Point is hoping to hear her name called.
She is the lone entrant from a Service Academy this year. If Cassalia is selected, she would be the first player from the Army, Navy or Air Force academies to be drafted into the NWSL.
The draft will span 40 picks across four rounds. It will be conducted virtually this year due to COVID-19 and will be streamed on Twitch beginning at 7 p.m. EST.
It seems unlikely that Cassalia will be a first-round pick. TopDrawerSoccer — a site dedicated to covering college and youth soccer — doesn’t mention her in its first-round mock draft. Still, Cassalia has proven to be an exceptional goalkeeper during her time at West Point.
A native of Omaha, Nebraska and a product of the Elite Girls Academy, Cassalia started right away for Army as a freshman and never relinquished the starting gig. She made the All-Patriot League Third Team as a freshman, Second Team as a sophomore and First Team as a junior.
Cassalia started 58 games in her college career and helped lead Army to victories in 21 of them. She notched 23 clean sheets in her three-plus seasons at West Point and had a goals-allowed per-game average of 0.90 with an 81.7% save rate.
The Black Knights were at their best in Cassalia’s junior campaign in 2019, when they went 9-7-4 and made the Patriot League Tournament final, where they lost to Navy. Cassalia was named Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year and named to the all-tournament team. She was also named to the US Soccer Coaches All-North Region Second Team selection.
⚽ With 5️⃣ shutouts on the year, @ArmyWP_WSoccer’s Sydney Cassalia is the 2019 #PatriotWSOC Goalkeeper of the Year!— Patriot League (@PatriotLeague) November 5, 2019
https://t.co/zGtrxkGs1p@GoArmyWestPoint | @NCAASoccer | #PatriotWSOC pic.twitter.com/cajLLyqXX1
Army played just one women’s soccer game this past fall amid the pandemic, beating Division III Coast Guard 3-0 in a game where Cassalia notched multiple stops.
Before she came to Army, Cassalia earned the U-17 Gold Glove Award and was a Best XI nominee at the 2016 U.S. Youth Soccer Nationals. TopDrawerSoccer tabbed her as a three-star prospect.
Cassalia is a Company Physical Development Officer at West Point, planning workouts for at-risk cadets “to achieve combat-ready fitness requirements,” according to her LinkedIn. She is set to graduate this spring with a degree in mathematics and cyber engineering.
A team wanting to draft Cassalia shouldn’t be worried about her military commitment getting in the way of her playing time. In 2019, President Donald Trump signed an order allowing graduates of Service Academies to play pro sports before fulfilling their two-year active-duty military requirement. It allows athletes to defer their military obligations until after their professional sports careers are over, if they receive approval from the Secretary of Defense.
There are six goalkeepers registered for the NWSL Draft. Cassalia could be one of them called on Wednesday.