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Naomi Girma, Jaelin Howell headline 2022 NWSL draft class


No surprises were offered in the first two picks of Saturday’s National Women’s Soccer League draft. Naomi Girma and Jaelin Howell were the obvious locks for the first two selections, and the only question was about if any team could offer enough to unearth the first-overall pick from expansion side San Diego Wave.

The answer was no, and Girma, 21, took the honor as the first-overall selection out of Stanford. Girma has yet to make her senior U.S. women’s national team debut but figures to get a call up in the near future. In San Diego, she joins a defensive unit headlined by Abby Dahlkemper and former Stanford teammate Tegan McGrady.

USWNT fans are a little more familiar with Howell, who broke into the senior team in 2020 and made another appearance in 2021. Howell, coming from Florida State, was a major part of the 2021 NCAA National Championship team. Howell heads to Racing Louisville where she will continue to hone her holding midfielder skills.

NWSL action is set to play out over international windows once again in 2022, and the North Carolina Courage bolstered their midfield via Virginia Tech product Emily Gray with the third pick. The Courage already lost Sam Mewis a couple of weeks ago and will have to do without Debinha who will spend significant time with Brazil, so Gray should be primed to make an instant impact in her rookie season.

There was plenty of moving and shaking in the aftermath of Thursday’s expansion draft. The Orlando Pride were among the most active as they seek to fill the holes left by the recent departures of Alex Morgan, Ali Krieger, and Ashlyn Harris. Orlando moved up to grab three first-rounders in hopes of finding some readymade starters.

Here is a closer look at the 2022 NWSL Draft results:

Round 1

San Diego Wave: Naomi Girma, Defender, Stanford

Racing Louisville: Jaelin Howell, Midfielder, Florida State

North Carolina Courage: Emily Gray, M, Virginia Tech

Racing Louisville: Savannah Demello, M, USC

Orlando Pride: Mia Fishel, Forward, UCLA

North Carolina Courage: Diana Ordońez, F, Virginia

Kansas City Current: Elyse Bennett, F, Washington State

OL Reign: Zsanett Kajan, F, St. John’s

San Diego Wave: Marleen Schimmer, M/F, Grand Canyon University

Orlando Pride: Catilin Cosme, D, Duke

Orlando Pride: Julie Doyle, F, Santa Clara

North Carolina Courage: Kaitlyn Fregulia, D, Long Beach State

Round 2

Portland Thorns: Sydny Nasello, F, South Florida

Washington Spirit: Tinaya Alexander, F, LSU

Washington Spirit: Madison Elwell, M/F, Vanderbilt

Racing Louisville: Charmé Morgan, D, Oklahoma State

Chardonnay Curran, M, Oregon

Chicago Red Stars: Ava Cook, F, Michigan State

Chicago Red Stars: Sammi Fisher, M, Notre Dame

OL Reign: Claudia Dickey, GK, North Carolina

OL Reign: Ryanne Brown, F, Wake Forest

Portland Thorns, Gabby Provenzano, D/M, Rutgers

Washington Spirit: Lucy Shepherd, F/M, Hofstra

NJ/NY Gotham: Kelly Ann Livingstone, D, Georgetown

San Diego Wave: Sydney Pulver, M/D, Washington State

Racing Louisville: Jordyn Bloomer, GK, Wisconsin

Round 3

San Diego Wave: Belle Briede, F/M, Stanford

Angel City: Hope Breslin, M, Illinois

North Carolina Courage: Haleigh Stackpole, F/M, Ole Miss

Racing Louisville: Jenna Menta, F, Wake Forest

Orlando Pride: Jada Talley, F, USC

OL Reign: Kalie Halvorsen, F/M, Santa Clara

OL Reign: Olivia Van Der Jaght, M, Washington

NJ/NY Gotham, Hensley Hancuff, GK, Clemson

Chicago Red Stars: Sarah Griffith, F, Purdue

Angel City: Lilly Nabet, M, Duke

Chicago Red Stars: Kayla McKeon, M, Arkansas

Washington Spirit: Audrey Harding, F, UNC Wilmington

Round 4

Angel City: Miri Taylor, F, Hofstra

San Diego Wave: Kayla Bruster, D, Georgia

Kansas City Current: Jenna Winebrenner, D, TCU

Racing Louisville: Syndey Cummings, D, Georgetown

Kansas City Current: Izzie Rodriguez, D, Ohio State

Houston Dash: Ryan Gareis, F, South Carolina

North Carolina Courage: Marissa Bova, GK, Purdue

NJ/NY Gotham: Raleigh Loughman, M, Michigan

OL Reign: Marley Canales, M, UCLA

Portland Thorns: Natalie Beckerman, F, Denver

Chicago Red Stars: Jayda Hylton-Pelaia, D, Arizona State

Washington Spirit: Jordan Thompson, M/D, Gonzaga

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