North Carolina in the 2023 NWSL Draft
Five players around North Carolina colleges have been selected in the 2023 NWSL Draft last Thursday 1/12:
- Duke: 3 players
- UNC Chapel Hill: 1 player
- Wake Forest: 1 player
All 12 teams of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) took turns making their selections over four rounds. Draft order in each round was determined by the reverse order of the final 2022 regular season standings, except that the 2022 Champions picked last and the runners-up picked second-to-last in each round.
Let’s dish out a quickfire comment for each NWSL team’s selection of NC players:
Kansas City Current
Michelle Cooper (No. 2) – Forward, Duke (Durham, NC)
Preparation was the name of the game for Kansas City, setting themselves up for a successful night by acquiring eight picks, the most of any club. The Current also brought in some big name well know in the Carolinas, the Brazilian star Debinha.
Kansas City continued to make a statement on draft night, trading USWNT star Lynn Williams to NJ/NY Gotham for its second pick, which the Current used to select the MAC Herman Trophy winner Michelle Cooper from Duke. With splashy attacking players locked in, Kansas City is showing as a strong candidate for the coming season.
Tori Hansen (No. 25) – Defender, UNC (Chapel Hill, NC)
Orlando bolstered their defense with two major stars from the ACC. Emily Madrill, at pick No. 3, was a nice choice. But Tori Hansen from North Carolina in round three might have been a steal. The Pride is quietly building something and flying under everyone’s radar. They even added Summer Yates in round 4 out of Washington, who could’ve easily been a first or second-round pick.
A native of Raleigh, NC, Hansen played for the U17-U18 NC Courage girls development academy as team captain, manning center defender and holding midfield spots. In 2018, she won the championships with the NC Courage women’s professional team in the International Champions Cup in Miami competing against Manchester City, PSG and Olympique Lyonnais.
Delaney Graham (No. 40) – Midfielder/Defender, Duke (Durham, NC)
The Spirit needed to fill out their roster after losing Kelley O’Hara and Sonnett, among others. Washington did add a total of six players in the later rounds of the draft, many, however, were attacking players. To try making up for the loss of O’Hara and Sonnett on the back line, the North Carolina player Delaney Graham is a solid midfielder defender pick.
A native of Atlanta, Ga., Graham closed her Duke career appearing in 105 career matches, while making a school-record 103 starts over the last five seasons. She netted four goals and 19 assists for 27 points, while helping lead the Blue Devils to 52 shutouts on the defensive end. Graham appeared in a school-record 8,767 minutes, was a three-time All-ACC selection and a four-time United Soccer Coaches All-Region honoree.
Chicago Red Stars
Sophie Jones (No. 43) – Midfielder, Duke (Durham, NC)
The Red Stars grabbed Jones with the seventh pick in the fourth round and the 43rd overall selection. One of the top midfielders in the nation, Jones started all 23 matches this past season. The Menlo Park, Calif., native notched two goals and three assists for seven points, while directing the Duke midfield. Jones started all 75 matches she played in over her Duke career, while registering eight assists, five goals and 18 points. She was a 2022 and 2020-21 United Soccer Coaches All-American and a three-time All-ACC selection.
San Diego Wave FC
Giovanna DeMarco (No. 45) – Midfielder, Wake Forest (Wake Forest, NC)
After a successful free agency, San Diego didn’t enter the draft with as much pressure as other clubs needing to strengthen their rosters. With DeMarco’s selection, Wake Forest has had a player drafted in five-consecutive NWSL drafts. Additionally, DeMarco marks the seventh Demon Deacon drafted in the last four years and the ninth overall.
DeMarco spent the last five seasons at Wake Forest University. A native of Gwynedd Valley, Penn., DeMarco appeared in 74 games, with 11 goals and seven assists. In her final season at Wake Forest, DeMarco spent time as a defensive midfielder, central defender and forward, while recording four goals and two assists.