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NWSL 2022 College Draft: Every pick in rounds 1-4

(Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As teams look to fill holes, increase depth or draft the next NWSL star, Just Women’s Sports has every pick for the 2022 NWSL College Draft.

Here’s a full list of all the draftees.

First Round

1. San Diego Wave FC

Naomi Girma, D, Stanford University

With the No. 1 overall pick of the draft, San Diego selected defender Naomi Girma out of Stanford University. A two-time Pac-12 Defender of the Year, Girma won the NCAA Championship with Stanford in 2019. Starting in 67 out of 68 career games, Girma is a solid defender who brings leadership experience, having captained Stanford for the past three seasons and served as captain of the U20 national team.

2. Racing Louisville FC

Jaelin Howell, M, Florida State University

After being passed on by San Diego, Jaelin Howell will take her talents to Louisville as the No. 2 overall pick of the college draft. The midfielder had a decorated career at Florida State, twice winning a national championship and earning First Team All-American honors as a senior. The 2020 MAC Hermann Trophy winner, Howell scored 14 goals in her college career while also recording 14 assists through 90 games.

3. North Carolina Courage

Emily Gray, M, Virginia Tech

As a midfielder, Gray will be able to fill some holes for the Courage after they traded away Sam Mewis to Kansas City. While the team added Brianna Pinto in a trade with Gotham FC, the addition of Gray will add more depth to the Courage’s midfield. Gray was excellent in her senior season, scoring 12 goals and adding eight assists for the Hokies – nearly half of the team’s total.

4. Racing Louisville FC 

Savannah DeMelo, CM, USC

DeMelo is a versatile midfielder, primarily being used as an attacking midfielder at USC but also holding the abilities to play out on the left or in a deeper role. This past fall also saw her play in a multitude of ways, including as a striker. Through 20 games played this season she scored four goals as well as seven assists. She’ll bolster a midfielder group that is now being led by Jessica McDonald after a trade with the North Carolina Courage.

5. Orlando Pride

Mia Fishel, F, UCLA

After departing with much of their roster during the offseason – including the departure of Alex Morgan to San Diego – the addition of Fishel is significant and could wind up being an absolute steal. In 59 games, she scored 32 goals and added 14 assists, moving into the Bruins’ top 10 all-time goal scorers in just three seasons. Not to mention, Fishel will be reuniting with her collegiate head coach in Amanda Cromwell, who was recently named head coach of the Orlando Pride.

6. North Carolina Courage

Diana Ordoñez, F, University of Virginia

A semifinalist for the 2021 MAC Hermann Trophy, Ordoñez’s 45 career goals is tied for third most all-time at Virginia. She led the ACC in goals during the 2021 season and is a three-time All-ACC selection, including a First Team selection in 2021. The Courage traded away Jessica McDonald to Racing Louisville FC for this pick, and Ordoñez should provide some depth to a line that is led by USWNT forward Lynn Williams.

7. Kansas City Current

Elyse Bennett, F, Washington State University

Bennett will be joining a forward group led by Jéssica Silva and Kristen Hamilton, giving her time to develop as a forward to the pro level. A high-powered scorer, Bennett spent five seasons at Washington State, playing in 93 games and scoring 26 goals while adding 12 assists. She had a career-high 10 goals in her senior season through 21 games and finished her season being named a Second Team All-American by the United Soccer Coaches organization.

8. OL Reign

Zsanett Kajan, F, St. John’s University

A forward out of Hungary, Kajan is an offensive powerhouse, having scored 16 goals in 18 games during the 2021 season. Throughout her five year career, the forward scored 45 goals in 87 career appearances and was named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year twice. She also has national team experience, earning her first cap for the Hungarian National Team at 16 years old. While the Reign have a lot of depth at forward with Megan Rapinoe, Bethany Balcer and Tziarra King, Kajan will be able to develop her game with some of the NWSL’s best. 

9. San Diego Wave FC

Marleen Schimmer, M/F, Grand Canyon University

After transferring to Grand Canyon, Schimmer started in 15 games during the 2021 season, scoring 13 goals and notching 14 assists. She also has international experience, having played on the U17 German National Team at the 2017 U17 UEFA Championship. She’ll get to develop under one of the world’s best in San Diego with Alex Morgan and could compete for minutes in the 2022 season.

10. Orlando Pride

Caitlin Cosme, D, Duke University

Cosme anchored one of the top defenses of the country at center back, leading the Blue Devils in minutes played with 1,829 and scoring three goals. With the departure of Ali Krieger, Cosme could fight for minutes while also learning from Pride defender Amy Turner. 

11. Orlando Pride

Julie Doyle, F, Santa Clara University

A member of the 2020 National Champion Santa Clara Broncos, Doyle sat out the fall season after using up her eligibility. Excellent in 1-on-1 situations, Doyle can play either on the wing or underneath a lone striker. With the Pride looking to bolster their roster, she could step in immediately and compete for minutes. 

12. North Carolina Courage

Kaitlin Fregulia, D, Long Beach State University

The Courage continue to bolster their defense, which is led by Abby Erceg and Carson Pickett. As a redshirt senior during the 2021 season, Fregulia started in 18 games while amassing a total of 1,608 minutes. She led a defense that recorded five shutouts while also tallying one goal and one assist. While she may have an uphill battle when it comes to competing for playing time, Fregulia will be able to learn from some of the league’s best and could develop into a solid starter in North Carolina.

Second Round

13. Portland Thorns FC – Sydny Nasello, F, University of South Florida

14. Washington Spirit – Tinaya Alexander, F, Louisiana State University

15. Washington Spirit – Madison Elwell, M/F, Vanderbilt University

16. Racing Louisville FC – Charmé Morgan, D, Oklahoma State University

17. Kansas City Current – Chardonnay Curran, M, University of Oregon

18. Chicago Red Stars – Ava Cook, F, Michigan State University

19. Chicago Red Stars – Sammi Fisher, M, Notre Dame

20. OL Reign – Claudia Dickey, GK, University of North Carolina

21. OL Reign – Ryanne Brown, F, Wake Forest

22. Portland Thorns – Gabby Provenzano, D/M, Rutgers University

23. Washington Spirit – Lucy Shepherd, F/M, Hofstra University

24. NJ/NY Gotham FC – Kelly Ann Livingstone, D, Georgetown University

25. San Diego Wave FC – Sydney Pulver, M/D, Washington State University

26. Racing Louisville FC – Jordyn Bloomer, GK, University of Wisconsin

Third Round

27. San Diego Wave FC – Belle Briede, F/M, Stanford University

28. Angel City FC – Hope Breslin, M, University of Illinois

29. North Carolina Courage – Haleigh Stackpole, M/F, Ole Miss

30. Racing Louisville FC – Jenna Menta, F, Wake Forest

31. Orlando Pride – Jada Talley, F, USC

32. OL Reign – Kaile Halvorsen, M/F, Santa Clara University

33. OL Reign – Olivia Van Der Jagt, M, Washington University

34. Gotham FC – Hensley Hancuff, GK, Clemson University

35. Chicago Red Stars – Sarah Griffith, F, Purdue University

36. Angel City FC – Lily Nabet, M, Duke University

37. Chicago Red Stars – Kayla McKeon, M, University of Arkansas

38. Washington Spirit – Audrey Harding, F, UNC Wilmington

Fourth Round

39. Angel City FC – Miri Taylor, F, Hofstra University

40. San Diego Wave FC – Kayla Bruster, D, University of Georgia

41. Kansas City Current – Jenna Winebrenner, D, Texas Christian University

42. Racing Louisville FC – Sydney Cummings, D, Georgetown University

43. Kansas City Current – Izzy Rodriguez, D, Ohio State University

44. Houston Dash – Ryan Gareis, F, University of South Carolina

45. North Carolina Courage – Marisa Bova, GK, Purdue University

46. NJ/NY Gotham FC – Raleigh Loughman, M, University of Michigan

47. OL Reign – Marley Canales, M, UCLA

48. Portland Thorns – Natalie Beckman, F, University of Denver

49. Chicago Red Stars – Jayda Hylton-Pelaia, D, Arizona State University

50. Washington Spirit – Jordan Thompson, D, Gonzaga University

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

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