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Jan. 17, 2014
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Penn State forward Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.) has been selected in the National Women's Soccer League draft, announced on Friday. The senior was selected sixth overall by Sky Blue FC, which counts as the second-highest draft pick in program history.
"I don't think it has really hit me yet," said Hayes. "I am very humbled to have this opportunity and I want to thank my parents, my coaches, my teammates, Penn State and everyone who has helped me get to where I am today. I truly don't think that I would be here today without all of the support and help I have received over the years. I am looking forward to a bright future with Sky Blue and I am excited for what the future holds."
Former Lion standout Christie Welsh (1999-2002) is the only Penn State player to have earned a higher draft pick, chosen as the No. 2 overall pick in 2003's WUSA (Women's United Soccer Association) draft.
A three-time NSCAA All-American, Hayes finished her career at Penn State as one of the most decorated players in program history. The forward was named a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist three consecutive years and was a finalist for the prestigious award in 2011. She was also a three-time first team All-Big Ten selection and earned back-to-back Forward of the Year honors in 2011 and 2012.
"I am so proud of Maya," said Penn State head coach Erica Walsh. "She has been a dream to coach over the last four years and I know that the opportunity to play professionally is a dream of hers. She is going to be a terrific player for Sky Blue."
Hayes speed and ability to find the back of the net proved lethal to countless opponents during her time with the Blue and White as she amassed 71 career-goals, the third-most in the program's 19-year history. She also posted 21 assists for the Nittany Lion offense, bringing her career-point total to 163, which ranks No. 3 on the PSU and Big Ten all-time points list.
In her senior campaign, Hayes led Penn State in goals and points, tallying 19 goals and six assists for 44 total points. As a junior, she netted a team second-best 16 goals and 38 points despite missing the first seven games of the season while helping the U.S. U-20 Women's National team to a FIFA World Cup title. Her sophomore season stands as the breakout year for Hayes, who set the Big Ten record for points in a season after producing 31 goals and eight assists.
Hayes helped the Blue and White to three straight Big Ten Championships (2010-12) and led the Lions to the NCAA Tournament in each of her four years, including a program-best finish as the National Runner-Up in 2012.
The New Jersey native has also excelled in the classroom, having earned several academic accolades throughout her time at PSU. Hayes most recently earned national recognition as she was named a NSCAA (National Soccer Coaches Association of America) first team Scholar All-American. A kinesiology major, she boasts a 3.43 cumulative GPA and is a member of Penn State's Athletic Honor Society, Spiritus Leoninus. Hayes is also a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.
The NWSL is an eight-team Division I women's professional soccer league that will begin its second season in the spring of 2014. U.S. Soccer has played a major role in organizing and running the league to ensure a business model with a focus on sustainability. Fans can follow the NWSL on Twitter at @NWSL.