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Duke women's soccer's Tess Boade drafted by Sky Blue FC of NWSL

Boade notched three goals and one assist in 12 games in the fall.
Boade notched three goals and one assist in 12 games in the fall.

In a season full of surprising developments, the Blue Devils received one more curveball this past week.

Attacking midfielder Tess Boade was selected 40th overall by Sky Blue FC this past Wednesday in the 2021 National Women’s Soccer League college draft. Boade was the last selection of the fourth and final round in the draft.

"I actually didn't know that I was going to be getting drafted. I didn't enter in the draft,” Boade told The Chronicle. “I had been talking to a coach the last month, but the morning of the draft, [I] had a conversation with her, and left it at that I wasn't going to be entering and I didn't want to be drafted…. So we'd watched the beginning but honestly got a little bored and turned it off around the end of the second round. 

"I was watching Grey's Anatomy in my room, half asleep, and my roommate came running in and was like, 'You just got drafted!' And then all my neighbors, who are my teammates, came running in—they were screaming, and I was like, 'What's happening?' And then I got a phone call from the coach, and of course I was so caught off guard, half asleep, sounded like an idiot.”

Due to a recent rule change for this year's draft, players could be selected even without declaring for the draft. And even if they declared or were drafted, they still had the possibility of exercising their remaining college eligibility, allowing Boade to stay for a fifth year at Duke and join Sky Blue FC in 2022.

“I definitely want to stay for a fifth year at Duke,” Boade said. “I basically am deferring…and then once I finish, I'll just go play for them then.”

Boade’s selection is the first for a Blue Devil midfielder since Quinn and Ashton Miller were both drafted in 2018, and marks the sixth straight year that a Duke player has heard their name called to the NWSL, every year since the league’s most recent expansion. The Blue Devils have had a player drafted in seven of the league’s nine drafts since the NWSL's founding in 2013.

Sky Blue FC had a surprisingly good 2020 season, making it to the semifinals of the Challenge Cup and finishing fourth in the Fall Series, despite opt-outs from key stars. While the team took a step back by trading star Mal Pugh, Boade will join a squad with enough talent to compete, including former Duke teammate Imani Dorsey.

And Dorsey isn’t the only familiar face waiting for Boade in the tri-state area.

“I actually have a ton of family who lives kind of all throughout New York, New Jersey,” Boade said. “My mom grew up there in a little small ocean town. So I've actually been going out to Jersey City, the Jersey area since I was like five, every summer…. It's kind of like a second home.... And that area is just so excited that I'll get to come out and they'll finally get to watch me play after all these years.”

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