The Spirit found a lot to like about the National Professional Soccer League's amateur draft.
The Spirit went to the draft in Canton, Ohio, yesterday with a list of 34 college players and came away with its first six choices, said Spirit vice president Drew Forrester.
After choosing Towson State defender Lance Johnson in the territorial draft, the Spirit picked UCLA's Sam George on the first round of the amateur draft and traded him to the Wichita Wings for Virginia midfielder Ben Crawley.
The Spirit then selected Davidson's Rob Ukrop and Dartmouth's Justin Head later in the first round, Virginia Tech's Tarik Walker in the second and Elizabethtown's Pat Walsh in the third.
"We got our first six," Forester said.
The Spirit then drafted former Oakland Mills High and Radford University star Dante Washington and Loyola goalie Shawn Boehmcke.
The draftees will be invited to a minicamp Sept. 10-12 and then to training camp in early October. They will be offered contracts only after they make the squad.
Ukrop, 6 feet 2, 200 pounds, is projected as a target man, who often plays with his back to the goal, a job held last year primarily by Rusty Troy. Ukrop will compete with Troy and Dan O'Keefe, the NPSL's all-time leading goal scorer who was acquired from St. Louis.
The Spirit is particularly pleased with the speed it got in Johnson, Walsh and Walker.
Walker, with his speed, size (6-2, 187) and strength and dexterity with both feet, reminds Cooper of Jean Harbor, who once played for the Blast and the Maryland Bays and is now on the U.S. national team.
SPIRIT SELECTIONS IN NPSL DRAFT
Lance Johnson (No. 12, defender, Towson State) -- Johnson, a Mount Laurel, N.J., native, was a four-year starter for Towson as the sweeper, the leader of the defense. He was on three East Coast Conference championship teams. During his four-year career, the Tigers were 47-25-7.
Sam George (No. 7 [from Chicago], forward, UCLA) -- The Spirit traded George to Wichita for midfielder Ben Crawley, the Wings' territorial draft pick. Born in Austin, Texas, Crawley was an All-America at Virginia.
Rob Ukrop (No. 11 [from Kansas City], forward, Davidson) -- Ukrop was the leading scorer in Division I last year with 31 goals. He led Davidson to the NCAA championship game.
Justin Head (No. 12, defender, Dartmouth) -- A Bethesda resident, Head was a Division I All-American. He's in Scotland for a four-week training program with Aberdeen, one of that country's powers.
Tarik Walker (No. 12, forward, Virginia Tech) -- Strong and fast, Walker is a graduate of Good Counsel High in Wheaton. He led the Baltimore Bays with 11 points this summer despite missing the last few games with chickenpox.
Pat Walsh (No. 6 [from Dayton], forward, Elizabethtown College) -- He was a Division III All-America. Walsh set up two goals in the Delaware Wizards' 3-1 victory over the Baltimore Bays in a United States Interregional Soccer League game early this month.
Dante Washington (No. 12, forward, Radford University) -- A native of Columbia and a graduate of Oakland Mills High, Washington has extensive national experience. He has played or trained with the U.S. Olympic development team and the under-20 national team.
Shawn Boehmcke (No. 12, goalie, Loyola) -- A Long Island native, Boehmcke was a three-time Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference goalie of the year. He holds Loyola shutout records for career (42) and one season (13).
Note: Aside from the Spirit's selections, there were no other players with a Maryland connection drafted.