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Kentucky’s Raetzman drafted by NWSL’s Red Stars

Herald-Leader Staff Report

UK's Courtney Raetzman moves the ball against SIU Edwardsville during the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Bell Soccer Complex in Lexington, Ky., on Nov. 15, 2014.
UK's Courtney Raetzman moves the ball against SIU Edwardsville during the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Bell Soccer Complex in Lexington, Ky., on Nov. 15, 2014. Herald-Leader

University of Kentucky senior Courtney Raetzman was selected by the Chicago Red Stars in the fourth round of Friday’s National Women’s Soccer League Draft.

Raetzman became the second UK player ever drafted by the fledgling pro league, joining Arin Gilliland, who was picked by the Red Stars in last year’s first round.

“I’m overjoyed to be starting my professional career off with the Red Stars,” Raetzman said in a UK news release. “They were a team that I had my eye on all day and I’m excited that (head coach) Rory (Dames) and the organization had the belief in me to select me. I want to thank everyone at Kentucky for the last four helping me reach the point that I’m at today. It’s exciting to be able play so close to home, and obviously with Arin Gilliland, who I played with for two years at UK. I’m anxious to get started, and can’t wait to get to work.”

Raetzman was the second pick of the fourth round, No. 32 overall. Forty players were picked Friday as the 10-team league held its fourth college player draft. Gilliland, who was drafted No. 8 overall last year, is a starting defender for Chicago.

Emily Sonnett of Virginia was the No. 1 overall pick, going to the Portland Thorns.

Raetzman, a native of Elk Grove, Ill., started all 70 games that she appeared in during her four years in Lexington, playing more than 6,000 minutes, good for a top-10 spot all-time at UK in minutes played. She scored 12 goals, had 16 assists, and registered more than 100 shots.

She was named to the Southeastern Conference’s All-Freshman Team in 2012, before an MCL injury sidelined her for the second half of the 2013 season. She returned to full force in 2014 to become Second Team All-SEC for the first time in her career, joining Gilliland and three others as UK’s five representatives on the SEC postseason teams that season.

In 2015, Raetzman was named First Team All-SEC for the first time after scoring three goals, assisting on seven and tallying 13 points on 24 shots.

“I could not be more excited for Courtney to begin her career in Chicago.” Kentucky Coach Jon Lipsitz said. “Rory Dames is an incredible coach and a great soccer mind that will help to mold Courtney 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. Courtney is a testament to what kind of development can happen when you have the heart and passion of a champion. 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 Courtney and we can’t wait to see her play at the next level this spring. I also want to thank her for helping take Kentucky to the next level in her time here, and I look forward to following her every step of the way.”

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