Arin Gilliland Drafted By Chicago Red Stars in NWSL Draft
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Former University of Kentucky women’s soccer player Arin Gilliland was drafted No. 8 overall in the first round to the Chicago Red Stars, where she will be embarking on her professional soccer career in the National Women’s Soccer League. Gilliland is the first-ever Kentucky soccer player to be drafted into any level of professional women’s soccer and was the first player that was selected out of the Southeastern Conference.
The NWSL draft took place on Friday morning at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s (NSCAA) annual coaching convention at the Philadelphia Convention Center in downtown Philadelphia.
“I’m overjoyed to begin my career in Chicago,” Gilliland said. “They were a team that I had my eye on entering the draft, and it made total sense to everyone for me to be a new member of the Red Stars. I want to thank (Chicago head coach) Rory Dames for his trust in selecting me, and (UK head coach) Jon Lipsitz for all that he did for me at Kentucky. This is a really exciting time for me and my family to be able to continue my dream of playing soccer professionally and ultimately make my goal of playing for the United States full Women’s National Team and representing our country in World Cups and the Olympics.”
Chicago is one of the youngest, but most talented teams in the league, as 10 of the current players on its roster right now are under the age of 25 not including Gilliland. The Red Stars finished fifth on the NWSL table last season, going 9-7-8 and collecting 35 points to finish just one spot outside of a playoff position.
“I could not be more excited for Arin to begin her career in Chicago.” Lipsitz said. “Arin is a player that came into Lexington and helped transform the culture of our program and helped get us to places that we have never been before. Now it is time for her to take the next step of her career with the Red Stars and I think it’s a perfect fit for her. Rory Dames is an incredible coach and a great soccer mind that will help to mold Arin into the player we all know she can and will be. She is a player that gives unbelievable effort every day in training and plays her best on the biggest stages under the most pressure. The entire coaching staff, as well as our team, former players and the Big Blue Nation will always hold a special place in our hearts for Arin and we can’t wait to see her play at the next level this spring and eventually achieve her life-long dream of playing on the full national team.”
In her illustrious four-year career, Gilliland played over 7,000 minutes on the field, scored 30 goals, and charted 25 assists for 85 career points. Gilliland set new UK records with 278 shots, with 81 of them coming on goal, and a new UK-record eight career game-winning goals.
She served as a captain on the two most successful seasons in program history, as the Wildcats went 31-13-2 in her final two years in charge of the team, helping lead UK to four-straight NCAA Tournaments, four-straight hosting bids, two wins over top-10 teams, the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance, six wins over teams in the top 25, and a 17-3-2 (.818) record when playing at home.
No other player in UK women’s soccer history has ever made more than two all-region teams in their careers before Gilliland earned that honor each season during her four-year stay in Lexington from 2011-2014. The Lexington native who was also the 2014 Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year and four-time All-SEC honoree, scored seven goals and had eight assists this season, for 22 points as an outside back.
Gilliland also leaves Lexington with a full trophy case, as she was named All-SEC four times, SEC All-Tournament Team in 2014, the Honda Inspiration Award winner in 2014, seven-time SEC Player of the Week, two-time team captain, two-time MAC Hermann Award finalist, and much more.
Chicago kicks off its 2015 season on Saturday, April 18 vs the Seattle Reign in the Windy City.
Gilliland has spent time on the United States U23 Women’s National Team, and is soon to get looks to the full team.