Cari Roccaro is about to go pro.
The East Islip native and Notre Dame star was selected by Houston Dash with the fifth overall pick in the 2016 National Women’s Soccer League College Draft held in Baltimore. She is one of two members of the Fighting Irish’s women’s soccer team to be selected in the NWSL draft. Her teammate, Katie Naughton was chosen by Chicago Red Stars in the second round.
Roccaro was taken fifth overall despite offseason surgery that will keep her out of competition until the middle of the NWSL’s season this summer.
“Having three picks (in the first round) gave us some flexibility to wait for [Roccaro] to get healthy because she’s going to be a star in this league,” Waldrum told Jonathan Yardley and Jen Cooper during the draft broadcast, which was streamed live on YouTube. Waldrum also noted his familiarity with Roccaro, having coached her for two seasons at Notre Dame.
Roccaro is a two-time NSCAA third-team All-American, a two-time Irish captain and former U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team captain. She made contributions from every field position throughout her career with the Irish, with 75 starts, 13 goals and four assists. In 2015, she transitioned to the back line to become one of the nation’s premier central defenders on a team that yielded just 5.4 shots per game and a total of 11 goals in 20 matches.
Roccaro was a four-time all-conference selection (ACC and BIG EAST), a two-time Monogram Club Team MVP, the 2012 Soccer America National Freshman of the Year and BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. In 2013, she was named a Soccer America first team MVP and was a three-time NSCAA All-Southeast Region honoree.