2023 NWSL Mock Draft – Version 1.0

Alexa Spaanstra, Virginia winger and potential NWSL draft pick.
(Image courtesy @alexaspaanstra on Instagram)

The off-season has officially started, free agency is under way, and the NWSL college draft has been set for January 12th! Now that the pre-season Dossier is out and we have a draft order (maybe not fully correct just yet, we’ll dial that in in the next one), it’s time to put the mock draft crew back together.

Meet your 2023 NWSL college mock draft GM’s:

Representing OL Reign – Bella Munson: Contributor for equilizersoccer.com (see her NWSL work here and follow @munson_bella on Twitter).

Representing the Houston Dash – Robbie Rogers: Contributor for Beyond Women’s Sports (follow @robrog1115 on Twitter).

Representing Gotham FC – Gary Gibson: Soccer Over Gotham podcast host and producer (follow @garygibson13 and @overgothampod on Twitter).

Representing Racing Louisville – Zach W. Allen: Vamos Morados podcast host and general Louisville soccer aficionado (follow @zachwallen on Twitter).

Representing the Orlando Pride – J.J. Post: College soccer beat writer for the Observer (the Notre Dame student newspaper), buckys5thquarter.com, and SoccerDossier.com as well (follow @jayjaypost on Twitter)

Round One

1.01 – Gotham FC – Emily Madril (BK Häcken FF, formerly at Florida State) – D

Pro ready player. Gotham needs depth and she’s the future. Her skill set is one Gotham doesn’t have in getting forward and adding to attacks. – @overgothampod

1.02 – Washington Spirit – Maya Doms (Stanford) – M

Defense may be Washington’s top priority, but with Madril off the board, Doms has the ability top help a bottom tier offense (last year) reach its full potential from the midfield.

1.03 – Orlando Pride – Croix Bethune (USC) – M

Normally listed as a midfielder, Bethune’s positional versatility stands out as a trait that could make her especially appealing to teams with multiple needs like Orlando. Her counting stats in both goals and assists are great, and her underlying stats are quality as well. – @jayjaypost

1.04 – Racing Louisville – Clara Robbins (Florida State) – M

Robbins had a great season with Racing’s W league team last year, so she is already familiar with the team and the staff. Would provide great depth in the midfield and be prepared to step in right away. – @ZachWAllen

1.05 – Angel City FC – Summer Yates (Washington) – M/F

Angel City has a ton of attacking talent (Press, Leroux, Charley), but relied mainly on Jun Endo and Savannah McCaskill in the midfield for their chance creation. Yates is a decorated, offensive minded midfielder who can open up an Angel City team that only scored 23 goals last season.

1.06 – North Carolina Courage – Jordan Brewster (West Virginia) – D

North Carolina can go several directions here, but with plenty of attacking talent available and multiple first round picks, they opt for the top center back on the board in Brewster to help bolster a back line that allowed 33 goals last year.

1.07 – Chicago Red Stars – Penelope Hocking (Penn State) – F

A dream situation for Chicago, Hocking is a prolific goal scorer who can give Mal Pugh some help up front.

1.08 – Houston Dash – Grace Yochum (Oklahoma State) – M

Oklahoma State’s leading scorer will be a perfect fit for a Dash team looking to replace the explosive offensive gap left by the loss of Rachel Daly – @robrog1115

1.09 -North Carolina Courage – Alexa Spaanstra (Virginia) – F

The Courage scored 46 goals last year, second only to Portland, but with Debinha eligible for free agency, they may need someone who can both score and create. Spaanstra fits that profile.

1.10 – North Carolina Courage – Nicole Douglas (Arizona State) – F

This isn’t exactly a need for North Carolina with last year’s 1st round pick Diana Ordonez on the roster, but one can never have too many capable goal scorers. Douglas led the NCAA with 19 goals last year, and has 14 so far this year.

1.11 – Kansas City Current – Sophie Jones (Duke) – D

A member of several US youth national teams, Jones gives Kansas City a defensive minded midfielder to fill the gap on international breaks, while allowing them to address other positional needs with the remainder of their draft picks.

1.12 – Portland Thorns – Jayde Riviere (Michigan) – D

The Thorns continue their goal of recreating the entire Canadian National team in Portland. An injury kept Jayde out of her final season at Michigan, but the attacking full back adds another layer of depth to the leagues best offense.

Round One Recap:

This year’s mock first round looks very similar to last year’s first mock first round. Madril, Robbins, Yates, Brewster, Hocking, Spaanstra and Douglas were all players who went back for another year (or decided to play professionally elsewhere for a year in Madril’s case). Now they take that extra year of experience with them to the NWSL.

Round Two

2.01 – Gotham FC – Messiah Bright (TCU) – F

Bright is one of the best strikers in the country. Fits what the new coach wants in a 9. – @overgothampod

2.02 – Chicago Red Stars – Jyllissa Harris (South Carolina) – D/M

Chicago needs a little bit of everything, and Harris provides versatile quality (4 time conference All American) to their back line and midfield.

2.03 – Kansas City Current – Ally Schlegel (Penn State) – F

An efficient playmaker and goal scorer, Schlegel gives Kansas City another attacking option behind veterans Lynn Williams and Kristen Hamilton.

2.04 – Racing Louisville – Olyvia Dowell (Oklahoma State) – F

Racing starts the season with several injuries at the forward position next year and will be looking to add depth there this offseason. – @ZachWAllen

2.05 – Racing Louisville – Kennedy Wesley (Stanford) – D

After playing most of last season without a true right back to play across the field from Emily Fox, the team will definitely be looking to at talent at that position in this draft. Kennedy has had a great career at Stanford, winning a national championship in 2019, and would be a solid addition to the team at outside back.- @ZachWAllen

2.06 – Kansas City Current – Reyna Reyes (Alabama) – D

A member of the Mexican National Team and a two time conference All American , Reyes comes in to compete at the left back position.

2.07 – Chicago Red Stars – Jenna Nighswonger (Florida State) – F

One of the best chance creators in the country, Nighswonger lines up on the wing across from Pugh and pairs well with first round selection Penelope Hocking.

2.08 – Houston Dash – Karlina Sample (Texas A&M) – D

Sample will add youth to a veteran backline for Houston. – @robrog1115

2.09 – Orlando Pride – Julia Leas (Georgetown) – D/M

The anchor of a Georgetown backline that has conceded just three goals since September 1st, Leas is one of inStat’s highest rated centerbacks this season, and is the database’s highest rated senior at the position outright. She has a good aerial presence that should translate well to the professional level, and boasts solid passing range and numbers to boot, indicative of both a comfort playing out from the back and potential flexibility in more of a #6 role (which she played out of for much of 2021). – @jayjaypost

2.10 – Houston Dash – Shannon Cooke (LSU) – D

Her backline presence will be a great addition to an already strong Houston backline. – @robrog1115

2.11 – Kansas City Current – Mykiaa Minniss (Washington State) – D

Mykiaa started 19 games as a freshman at Washington State, has been a conference All American 3 times, and she has experience with the U-20 US national team. At 5’11” her aerial presence will be a welcome addition to Kansas City’s defense.

2.12 – Portland Thorns – Izzy D’Aquila (Santa Clara) – F

With Sophia Smith routinely making trips with the national team, Portland will need another capable striker to step up during international breaks. In addition to her collegiate accolades and 50 career goals, Izzy’s youth national team experience should let her fit right in up front in Portland.

Round Two Recap:

The second round is basically just another first round, given the depth of this class. Much more forward heavy after a midfield packed first round, waiting on a striker may prove to be a viable option for many teams this year.

Round Three

3.01 – Orlando Pride – Riley Mattingly (Alabama) – F

No player in power five soccer has more goals than Mattingley, who has played a vital role in Alabama emerging as one of the best teams in college soccer this season. Overperforming her xG enough to show ample finishing ability while still generating enough xG overall to display an ability to find quality positions in the attack, Mattingley provides a nice blend of counting stat flash and underlying number practicality. To top it off, she’s played on the right, left, and through the middle over the course of her college career which gives her an advantage over more one-dimensional forwards as teams look to find fits for holes in their lineups. – @jayjaypost

3.02 – Washington Spirit – Rebecca Jarrett (Virginia) – F

A previous member of several US youth national teams, Jarrett has first round potential, but she’s working her way back from a knee injury that ended her 2021 season. Washington takes a shot at the upside here, as the exciting winger can help stretch the field while Trinity Rodman is out on international duty.

3.03 – Orlando Pride – Onyi Echegini (Florida State) – F

The Mississippi State transfer has played a major role in a transitional Florida State side maintaining their traditional standard of success. An efficient dribbler who can play both as a winger or further back in the midfield on the left side, Echegini’s smooth play can fit into either a possession style or a more up-tempo transition attack. – @jayjaypost

3.04 – Racing Louisville – Brittany Raphino (Brown) – F

Raphino is Brown’s second leading scorer this year, and one of several Mac Hermann watch listed forwards in this mock draft. She can play on the left or up front, and her height and experience should give Louisville a talented attacking threat.

3.05 – Orlando Pride – Tori Hansen (North Carolina) – D

It’s never too early to start adding depth along the backline. Hansen has displayed an ability to play on either side of a back two at North Carolina, and her ability to partner either a left footed or a right footed centerback could be a prized trait at this point of the draft. Standing 5’10 and possessing plenty of willingness to engage in scraps in the box, she’s proven herself a quality set piece target at the college level. Battle tested against some of the nation’s best attackers in the ACC, there shouldn’t be much transition for Hansen from one of the nation’s best programs in UNC to the Pride. – @jayjaypost

3.06 – North Carolina Courage – Sophia Braun (Gonzaga) – M

Talented midfielder and member of the Argentine National Team, Braun goes to North Carolina to reinforce a squad looking to add defense to an offensive minded club.

3.07 – Chicago Red Stars – Delaney Schultz (Rice) – M

An attacking midfielder with more college awards and accomplishments than we have time to name (seriously, click on the link, you have to scroll to get to other things), Schultz replenishes a Chicago midfield that may be hit hard by free agency.

3.08 – OL Reign – Haley Hopkins (Virginia) – F

I think the Reign can still stand to add attacking talent to their roster and Hopkins is a very capable goal scorer and assister from the same program that Diana Ordóñez came from, only Ordóñez scored more goals than Hopkins for their 21-22 team. – @muson_bella

3.09 – San Diego Wave FC – Cori Dyke (Penn State) – M

San Diego takes a defensive midfielder who’s played over 7000 minutes at Penn State, and has played on almost, if not all of the youth national teams we have to offer here in the states (U-14 all the way up to U-23). An effective passer and tackler, Dyke can help win the ball for an explosive offense.

3.10 – Orlando Pride – Maya Antoine (Vanderbilt) – D

Per InStat, Antoine led the entire nation in ball recoveries in 2022. Using the same database, she also finished with the 5th best completion % for players with more than 1,000 completed passes (a short list to be on in itself). She has experience with Canadian youth national teams that should be appealing to prospective teams as well. – @jayjaypost

3.11 – Kansas City Current – Anna Podojil (Arkansas) – F

Kansas City has a ton of picks this year, and at this point, they’re just taking the best players available. Podojil has over 100 career points, and is one of the better passing strikers in the class.

3.12 – Portland Thorns – Brandi Peterson (USC) – D

A right back in the first round and a left back here, the Thorns take the TCU transfer to add to their title winning squad. Defensive depth should be where they place emphasis this draft, whether that be at center back or outside back.

Round Three Recap –

The third round is full of award winners, youth national team players, and prospects who have a ton of potential but may have been overlooked in the first two rounds. We’ll see multiple, significant, future NWSL contributors from this group.

Round Four

4.01 – Gotham FC – Cecily Stoute (Georgia) – D

Fits Gotham culture on and off the field. A talent on the field and off. wins 80 percent of her duels. bright future for the Trinidad and Tobago national teamer. – @overgothampod

4.02 – Kansas City Current – Hannah Friedrich (Saint Louis) – M

Friedrich is effective from either wing, and her 105 career points show just how effective she can be. With almost as many career awards as points (Mac Hermann watch list, previous A10 player of the year, 4x Conference All American to name a few), Hannah is the ideal high upside 4th round pick.

4.03 – Orlando Pride – Mackenzie George (Tennessee) – F

George is the textbook definition of a balanced forward. Her career goal and assist numbers are nearly equal. A capable chance creator, George is also a member of the small club of NCAA players with over 100 completed dribbles on the season. A winger by trade, its also not hard to see the former transfer from Cal Poly sliding in at attacking midfield. – @jayjaypost

4.04 – Racing Loisville – Kyoka Koshijima (Keiser) – M

Koshijima was just named Sun Conference player of the year, to top off her 4x first team all conference award resume. Previous experience with the Japanese national team, 123 career points, and a talented set piece taker, Kyoka adds depth to the young Louisville core.

4.05 – Orlando Pride – Lauren Kozal (Michigan State) – GK

Time for the first “meh, only have one more pick, why not take a shot at a goalie” selection of this mock. Kozal excels in a number of areas. Per InStat’s database, her 17 “supersaves” lead all Power Five seniors. Her goals conceded-xG conceded is staggering as well, only letting in 12 goals on 21 xG faced thus far in 2022. Want a little more? Kozal has more accurate passes (832) than any other goalkeeper in the country tracked by InStat, with one of the highest completion rates in the country as well. – @jayjaypost

4.06 – Kansas City Current – Heather Payne (Florida State) – D/M

A right back/ right winger, Payne was talented enough to start 20 games as a freshman at Florida State, and has earned her way onto the Irish National team, where she now has multiple caps.

4.07 – Chicago Red Stars – Sydney Studer (Washington State) – M

Just like last round, Chicago looks to fill out their potentially vacated midfield by adding Studer here. Delaney Schultz gives them an attacking presence and Sydney provides the defense, proficient at winning both interceptions and aerial duels.

4.08 – Houston Dash – Ashley Orkus (Ole Miss) – GK

Orkus can learn from veteran keeper Jane Campbell and has enough experience in big game environments to be the perfect starter when Campbell is away. – @robrog1115

4.09 – San Diego Wave – Abby Swanson (Loyola Chicago) – D/M

Two time Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and multiple time first team conference All American, the Wave add another capable midfielder and defender to round out their second NWSL draft.

4.10 – OL Reign – Roma McLaughlin (Central Connecticut State) – M

NEC midfielder of the year four years in a row, McLaughlin joins Heather Payne as the second Irish National team player selected here in the fourth round. Roma is an attacking midfielder who is a terrific passer, with enough goal scoring ability to make defenses worry.

4.11 – Kansas City Current – Maddie Turlington (Gardner Webb) – F

Turlington followed up a Big South Player of the Year season in 2021 with an 18 goal 5 assist season in 2022. A great dribbler and consistent finisher, Maddie should find herself on an NWSL squad.

4.12 – Portland Thorns – Megan McClelland (Rutgers) – GK

With Abby Smith leaving in free agency, the Thorns need another backup to Bella Bixby. McClelland has US youth national team experience, she’s a 4x Conference All American, and she’s logged over 9000 productive minutes on the pitch at Rutgers.

Round Four Recap –

We were all over the place in the fourth round (Keiser and Gardner Webb? Who knew) as we finished up this mock draft. There are so many talented players that didn’t get included this time around, which just speaks to the overall depth of this draft class. Luckily, Mock Draft 2.0 is just a few weeks away.

Working to cover and predict the NWSL draft earlier than it ever has been before. Make sure to check out our other articles, and The Dossier, a list of NWSL draft prospects!