The NWSL is heading into its most competitive season yet with two ambitious new expansion teams joining the league. And before a ball is even kicked in 2022, the competition is ramping up this offseason when it comes to player signings. Two days after the Expansion Draft, all 12 teams scooped up top college talent in the NWSL Draft.  

One of those expansion teams, San Diego Wave FC, came away with five players including the No. 1 pick in the draft which it used on Stanford center back Naomi Girma, who is projected to be a future U.S. women’s national team regular. With its other pick in the first round, Wave FC made another surprise selection by taking Grand Canyon’s German midfielder Marleen Schimmer.

Expansion counterpart Angel City FC traded away its early picks and didn’t make a selection until the third round: Hope Breslin (Illinois), Lily Nabet (Duke) and Miri Taylor (Hofstra) were the selections by ACFC head coach Freya Coombe.

MORE: The seven players picked in the NWSL Expansion Draft

Racing Louisville FC and OL Reign had the most picks of any club with six each, but Racing benefited from two picks in the top four. The Houston Dash had a draft-low one selection which came toward the end of the five-hour draft. 

Among the other top prospects, Jaelin Howell of recently-crowned NCAA champs Florida State, who many thought could go No. 1, dropped to No. 2 for Racing Louisville. Highly touted UCLA scorer Mia Fishel dropped to No. 5 to her former UCLA coach Amanda Cromwell, who just took over at the Orlando Pride.

NWSL Draft tracker & picks

Here is every pick of the four-round NWSL draft followed by a breakdown of the picks by club.

Round 1

PickClubPlayerPositionCollege
1San Diego Wave FCNaomi GirmaDFStanford
2Racing Louisville FCJaelin HowellMFFlorida State
3North Carolina CourageEmily GrayMFVirginia Tech
4Racing Louisville FCSavannah DeMeloFW/MFUSC
5Orlando PrideMia FishelFWUCLA
6North Carolina CourageDiana OrdonezFWVirginia
7Kansas City CurrentElyse BennettFWWashington State
8OL ReignZsanett KajanFWSt. John’s
9San Diego Wave FCMarleen SchimmerFW/MFGrand Canyon
10Orlando PrideCaitlin CosmeDFDuke
11Orlando PrideJulie DoyleFW/MFSanta Clara
12North Carolina CourageKaitlin FreguliaDFCal State-Long Beach

Round 2

PickClubPlayerPositionCollege
13Portland Thorns FCSydny NaselloFWSouth Florida
14Washington SpiritTinaya AlexanderFWLSU
15Washington SpiritMadison ElwellMF/FWVanderbilt
16Racing Louisville FCCharme MorganDFOklahoma State
17Kansas City CurrentChardonnay CurranMFOregon
18Chicago Red StarsAva CookFWMichigan State
19Chicago Red StarsSammi FisherFW/MFNotre Dame
20OL ReignClaudia DickeyGKNorth Carolina
21OL ReignRyanne BrownFW/MF/DFWake Forest
22Portland Thorns FCGabby ProvenzanoDFRutgers
23Washington SpiritLucy ShepherdFWHofstra
24NJ/NY Gotham FCKelly Ann LivingstoneDFGeorgetown
25San Diego Wave*Sydney PulverMFWashington State
26Racing Louisville FC*Jordyn BloomerGKWisconsin

Round 3

PickClubPlayerPositionCollege
27San Diego Wave FCBelle BriedeMFStanford
28Angel City FCHope BreslinMFIllinois
29North Carolina CourageHaleigh StackpoleMFMississippi
30Racing Louisville FCJenna MentaFWWake Forest
31Orlando PrideJada TalleyFWUSC
32OL ReignKaile HalvorsenFW/MFSanta Clara
33OL ReignOlivia van der JagtMFWashington
34NJ/NY Gotham FCHensley HancuffGKClemson
35Chicago Red StarsSarah GriffithFWPurdue
36Angel City FCLily NabetMFDuke
37Chicago Red StarsKayla McKeonMFArkansas
38Washington SpiritAudrey HardingFWUNC-Wilmington

Round 4

PickClubPlayerPositionCollege
39Angel City FCMiri TaylorFWHofstra
40San Diego Wave FCKayla BrusterDFGeorgia
41Kansas City CurrentJenna WinebrennerDFTCU
42Racing Louisville FCSydney CummingsDFGeorgetown
43Kansas City CurrentIzzy RodriguezDFOhio State
44Houston DashRyan GareisFWSouth Carolina
45North Carolina CourageMarisa BovaGKPurdue
46NJ/NY Gotham FCRaleigh LoughmanMFMichigan
47OL ReignMarley CanalesMFUCLA
48Portland ThornsNatalie BeckmanFWDenver
49Chicago Red StarsJayda Hylton-PelaiaDFArizona State
50Washington SpiritJordan ThompsonDFGonzaga

NWSL Draft picks by club

TeamPicksPlayers
 Angel City FC328-Hope Breslin (MF-Illinois)
36-Lily Nabet (MF-Duke)
39-Miri Taylor (FW-Hofstra)
Chicago Red Stars518-AvaCook (FW-Michigan St)
19-Sammi Fisher (FW-Notre Dame)
35-Sarah Griffith (FW-Purdue)
37-Kayla McKeon (MF-Arkansas)
49-Jayda Hylton-Pelaia (DF-Arizona St)
Houston Dash144-Ryan Gareis (FW-South Carolina)
KC Current47-Elyse Bennett (FW-Wash. St)
17-Chardonnay Curran (MF-Oregon)
41-Jenna Winebrenner (DF-TCU)
43-Izzy Rodriguez (DF-Ohio State)
NJ/NY Gotham FC324-Kelly Ann Livingstone (DF-Georgetown)
34-Hensley Hancuff (GK-Clemson)
46-Raleigh Loughman (MF-Michigan)
North Carolina Courage53-Emily Gray (MF-Va Tech)
6-Diana Ordonez (FW-Virginia)
12-Kaitlin Fregulia (DF-Cal State Long Beach)
29-Haleigh Stackpole (MF-Mississippi)
45-Marisa Bova (GK-Purdue)
OL Reign68-Zsanett Kajan (FW-St. John’s)
20-Claudia Dickey (GK-North Carolina)
21-Ryanne Brown (FW/MF – Wake Forest)
32-Kaile Halvorsen (FW-Santa Clara)
33-Olivia van der Jagt (MF-Washington)
47-Marley Canales (MF-UCLA)
Orlando Pride45-Mia Fishel (FW-UCLA)
10-Caitlin Cosme (DF-Duke)
11-Julie Doyle (FW-Santa Clara)
31-Jada Talley (FW-USC)
Portland Thorns FC313-Sydny Nasello (FW-South Fla.)
22-Gabby Provenzano (DF-Rutgers)
48-Natalie Beckman (FW-Denver)
Racing Louisville FC62-Jaelin Howell (MF-Florida St)
4-Savannah DeMelo (FW-USC)
16-Charme Morgan (DF-Oklahoma St)
26-Jordyn Bloomer (GK-Wisconsin)
30-Jenna Menta (FW-Wake Forest)
42-Sydney Cummings (DF-Georgetown)
San Diego Wave FC51-Naomi Girma (DF-Stanford)
9-Marleen Schimmer (FW/MF-Grand Canyon)
25-Sydney Pulver (MF-Wash. St)
27-Belle Briede (MF-Stanford)
40-Kayla Bruster (DF-Georgia)
Washington Spirit514-Tinaya Alexander (FW-LSU)
15-Maddie Elwell (FW-Vanderbilt)
23-Lucy Shepherd (FW-Hofstra)
38-Audrey Harding (FW-UNC Wilmington)
50-Jordan Thompson (DF-Gonzaga)

NWSL Draft rules

The draft was conducted as a standard four-round draft, with a few tweaks regarding the pair of expansion teams:

  • San Diego Wave FC held the No. 1 draft pick thanks to a coin flip, but since there were two expansion teams in this draft, they rotated the top spots in each of the four rounds, meaning Wave FC picked first in Rounds 1 & 3, while Angel City picked first in Rounds 2 & 4, though Angel City traded its Round pick.
  • The two expansion sides got two extra picks at the end of Round 2, giving the draft an even 50 overall picks. Angel City traded its pick to Houston Dash, which in turn traded it to Racing Louisville FC.

DECOURCY: Spirit’s NWSL title was the most remarkable in U.S. sports history 

Several slots were traded before the draft, including two of the top three picks: Racing Louisville acquired Angel City FC’s first round pick (No. 2 overall) from the trade involving Christen Press, and NC Courage owned Kansas City Current’s first round pick (No. 3 overall) from the trade involving Sam Mewis.

NWSL Draft player list

Here are the 190 players who were registered and eligible to be selected in the NWSL SuperDraft (selected players in bold):

NameCollegePositionCitizenship
Adams, HaileighColorado – BoulderDFUSA
Adams, LeslieSiena CollegeGKUSA
Alexander, TinayaLSUFWUK
Anderson, TaylorRichmondMFUSA
Arthurs, CarliStephen F. Austin StateFW / DFUSA
Aviza, ShannonSt. John’sMF / DFUSA
Bardes, EricaCentral Conn. StateMF / DFUSA
Bass, JasmineNew Jersey CityFW / MFUSA
Beckman, NatalieUniversity of DenverFW / MFUSA
Beletic, IsabellaIncarnate WordMF / DFUSA
Belisle, MollieGeorgiaFWUSA
Bennett, ElyseWashington StateFWUSA
Bentick, AyshaLouisiana – MonroeMF / DFUK
Berry, OliviaBenedictine CollegeGKUSA
Bike, JennaBoston CollegeFWUSA
Bloomer, JordynWisconsin – MadisonGKUSA
Bostard, HaleyGrand CanyonMF / DFUSA
Bova, MarisaPurdueGKUSA
Breslin, HopeIllinoisMFUSA
Briede, BelleStanfordMFUSA
Brown, RyanneWake Forest FW / MF / DFUSA
Brummett, GabiUniversity of PortlandFW / MFUSA
Bruster, KaylaUniversity of GeorgiaDFUSA
Caffey, TianaLSUMF / DFUSA
Cahalan, ClaireUniversity of ToledoFW / MFUSA
Camberos, ScarlettCalifornia – IrvineFW / MFUSA/MEX
Campbell, RaenahDrexel UniversityFWUSA
Canales, MarleyUCLAMFUSA
Cardozo, AshleyUtah StateFW / MFUSA
Cavanaugh, MeghanSouth FloridaFW / MFUSA
Chang, LaurenSouth CarolinaMFUSA
Cherry, MackenzieCoastal CarolinaMF / DFUSA
Cleverley, DaisyGeorgetown MFNZ
Coleman, GabriellaOklahoma StateFWUSA
Cook, AvaMichigan State FWUSA
Correa De Oliveira, JuliaChicago StateFW / MFBRA
Cosme, CaitlinDukeDFUSA
Cowart, JessikaWashingtonMF / DFUSA
Cummings, SydneyGeorgetownDFUSA
Curran, ChardonnayOregonMF / DFUSA
DeMelo, SavannahUSCFW / MFUSA
Dennis, ChyanneSouth FloridaMF / DFUSA/JAM
DePriest, PeytonMiddle Tennessee StateFW / MFUSA
Dickey, ClaudiaNorth CarolinaGKUSA
Dierickx, NatalieWestern WashingtonGKUSA
DiGenova, MarissaTempleFW / MF / DFUSA
Doyle, DarbyWestern WashingtonMFUSA
Doyle, JulieSanta ClaraFW / MF / DFUSA
Edwards, HannahGrand CanyonDFUSA
Elwell, MadisonVanderbiltFW / MF / DFUSA
Enciso, SabrinaArizonaDFUSA
Fishel, MiaUCLAFW / MFUSA
Fisher, SammiNotre DameFW / MFUSA
Fregulia, KaitlinCal State – Long BeachDFUSA
Frerker, AndreaSIUEMF / DFUSA
Gareis, RyanSouth CarolinaFWUSA
Gee, TatumPrincetonFW / MF / DFUSA
Girma, NaomiStanfordDFUSA
Golob, LanaVirginia CommonwealthDFSLO
Grant, JazminHoustonFW / MFUSA
Gray, EmilyVirginia TechMFUSA
Green, DeannaSouth AlabamaMF / DFUSA
Griffith, SarahPurdueFWUSA
Grosso, JuliaKentuckyMF / DFUSA
Guion, ReneeClemsonDFUSA
Halvorsen, KaileSanta ClaraFW / MFUSA
Hancuff, HensleyClemsonGKUSA
Hand, JacquelineColorado CollegeFW / MFNZ
Hansen, TaylorMontanaDFUSA
Harber, JojoStanfordFW / DFUSA
Harding, AudreyUNC – WilmingtonFWUSA
Harkleroad, EmmaSouth DakotaGKUSA
Harr, JordieTexas TechFW / MFUSA
Harriot, MadiyaVanderbiltMF / DFUSA
Harris, TianaKent StateDFCAN
Heckman, IsabelMurray StateDFUSA
Hopcroft, ShanadeColorado – BoulderFW / MFUK
Howell, JaelinFlorida StateMFUSA
Hussen, AmeeraWashingtonFW / MFUSA
Hylton-Pelaia, JaydaArizona StateDFCAN
Ikeda, AngeliqueSIUEMF / DFUSA
Irwin, JamieNew HampshireDFUSA
Jacobs, KarenSan Bernardino ValleyFWUUSA
Jacobsen, EdenUniversity of UtahMFUSA
Kajan, ZsanettSt. John’sFW / MFHUN
Kearse-Thomas, OliviaArizona State FW / MF / DFUSA
Kelley-Lusk, HannahWest Texas A&MFWUSA
Kershner, EmmaVirginia CommonwealthFW / MF / DFUSA
Killman, JennaWestern Washington FW / MFUSA
Kirton, AlexaNew MexicoMFUSA
Knox, AlexusGeorgia StateDFUSA
Kowalski, AmandaButler UniversityMF / DFUSA
Kouzelos, GabrielleLouisvilleGKUSA
Kuehn, AthenaLSUFW / MF / DFUSA/GER
LaMacchia, ElainaWisconsin – MilwaukeeFW / MF / DF / GKUSA
Lampe, BrookeNorth TexasFW / MF / DF / GKUSA
Laurendeau, MarikaCollege of Saint RoseGKCAN
Layne, EmersonLoveland High SchoolFW / MFUSA
Leal, AmandaCal State – StanislausGKUSA
Lee, Shannon ClaireGeorge MasonDFUSA
Lewis, SofiaMinot State FW / MFUSA
Livingstone, Kelly AnnGeorgetownDFUSA
Loughman, RaleighMichiganMFUSA/ARG
Lucci, CarolinaChowan UniversityFWUSA
Lundgren, JennaWestern IllinoisFW / MF / DFUSA
Martin, MollyMississippiFW / MFUSA
Mayer, AnnaMissouri Western StateGKUSA
McCarthy, RobynCal State – FresnoMF / DFUSA
McClure, MeganArkansas StateGKUUSA
McKeon, KaylaArkansasMFUSA
McLaughlin, ChristineChristendom CollegeFW / MF / DFUSA
McManus, MikennaNortheasternDFUSA
McMillan, CaylonStephen F. Austin StateMFUSA
McNally, NatalieWestern CarolinaDFUSA
McNulty, HannahProvidenceFWUSA
Medina, JodiAlabama A&MGKUSA
Menta, JennaWake ForestFWUSA
Miagkova, AlinaSyracuseDFRUS
Mitchell, AlexisSouth DakotaMFUSA
Morgan, CharmeOklahoma StateDFUSA
Moser, LouisaGeorge MasonFW / GKGER
Murnin, MadisonCentral FloridaMF / DFUSA
Myers, EricaTennessee – MartinGKUSA
Nabet, LilyDukeMFUSA
Nasello, SydnySouth FloridaFWUSA
Ochoa Rodriguez, PaolaMissouri Valley CollegeFW / MFUSA
Ordonez, DianaVirginiaFWUSA
Palacios, RandiLibertyGKUSA
Pantaleao, ErmelindaLouisiana – MonroeDFBRA
Pedroza, SieraHope InternationalFW / MF / GKUSA
Perez, MaiaHartfordGKUSA
Peters, SarahKansasGKUSA
Peterson, KarstynUtah StateFW / DFUSA
Philpotts, RachelWisconsin – MilwaukeeMF / DFUSA
Potts, NicolaBall StateFW / MFUK
Proulx, LysianneSyracuseGKCAN
Provenzano, GabbyRutgersDFUSA
Pulver, SydneyWashington State MFUSA
Pursey, ValentineWestern CarolinaFW / MF / DFUK
Rabot, IrisJames MadisonMFFRA
Reiss de Araujo, ThaisNorth FloridaFW / MF / DFBRA
Reyes, CalistaPepperdineFW / MF / DFUSA
Ries, TarynPortlandFWUSA
Ritchie-Williams, ChiaraLSUMF / DFUK
Rockwell, JennaCumberlandsDFUSA
Rodriguez, IzzyOhio StateMF / DFUSA
Roelfsema, MijkeRiceMF / DFNED
Ross, JulianneNortheasternDFUSA
Salvador, RomaneCalifornia BaptistGKFRA
Santos, AshleyIllinois StateMF / DFUSA
Sapp, MercedesNorth FloridaGKUSA
Schill, MacKenzieWisconsin – MilwaukeeFW / MFUSA
Schimmer, MarleenGrand CanyonFW / MFGER
Sever, JelenaWisconsin – MilwaukeeFW / MFUSA
Shepherd, LucyHofstraFWUK
Silva Santos, Ana PaulaWilliam CareyMFBRA
Skiba, BridgetteOregon StateGKUSA
Sodoma, SarahArkansas StateMF / DFUSA
Stackpole, HaleighMississippiMFUSA
Stauffer, AnnieTransylvania UniversityMF / DFUSA
Steigleder, ReganNorthwesternFW / MF / DFUSA
Steinwascher, CeceliaGrand Valley StateMF / DFUSA
Stephan, DaniMichigan StateMF / DFUSA
Stevenson, ErinUMBCMF / DFUSA
Suarez Quevedo, SaraChicago StateFW / MFESP
Talbot, MadelineStephen F. Austin StateGKUSA
Talley, JadaUSCFWUSA
Taylor, MiriHofstraFWUK
Thomas, HaleyBoston CollegeMF / DFUSA
Thompson, JordanGonzaga DFUSA
Thompson, KaylaBrownGKUSA
Thron, JuliettaNorthwesternMF / DFUSA
Tripp, AmberUtah ValleyFW / MFUSA
Van der Jagt, OliviaWashingtonMFUSA
Villagrana, YossimarButler Community CollegeMFUSA
Walker, ElliePortlandDFUSA
Wandt, JenniferBaylorGKUSA
Weaver, CamilleColorado CollegeMF / DFUSA
Wegener, EmoryGeorgiaGKUSA
West, AlexVermontMF / DFUSA
Westin, EmmaCal – BerkeleyFW / MFSWE
Whitmore, LindseySMUFW / MFUSA
Winebrenner, JennaTCUDFUSA
Wiseman, EbonyJames MadisonMFUK
Wolfbauer, MadisonBowling GreenFW / MFUSA
Zamiela, ChloeSouth FloridaFW / DFUSA
Zerva, TheoniLouisiana – MonroeMF / DFGRE
Zullo, LucianaSouth CarolinaFW / MFUSA
Zuniga, JennaCal State – StanislausMF / DFUSA

NWSL Draft prospects & top talents

Nearly 200 players registered for the draft hoping to be one of the 50 picks at the event. The college ranks were bursting with talent this past season, but it wasn’t as top-heavy as in recent years. But there was an upper echelon, with the following players standing out in the lead-up to the draft.

MORE: New USWNT players make the case to be starters

Jaelin Howell (MF, Florida State)

All the buzz has Howell going first overall to San Diego Wave, having proven her worth over a number of years at one of the best teams in the NCAA. Howell made three College Cups over her four years, won a MAC Hermann Trophy (and could win another), and has senior USWNT experience. A natural No. 8, one would be hard-pressed to find a more experienced and battle-tested player in this entire draft.

Naomi Girma (DF, Stanford)

Unanimously the top defender in the draft, Girma was injured last year and chose to stay in college for another season at one of the country’s most vaunted programs. Stanford’s season was somewhat of a disappointment, but her talent is undeniable, finishing as a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist two years in a row as a defender, an impressive feather in the cap.

Mia Fishel (FW, UCLA)

A two-time All American at UCLA, Fishel is only a junior but took the opportunity to leave early with a chance to go high in the draft. She scored 36 times in 59 matches across her three seasons at UCLA. The payoff for that performance was an October 2020 callup into senior USWNT camp, and being named a finalist for the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year award.

Claudia Dickey (GK, North Carolina)

We are entering sleeper territory, and Dickey is the top goalkeeper in the draft. Goalkeepers aren’t quite as prioritized in the draft as the outfield positions, but Dickey is a veteran with USWNT buzz (although the position is quite logjammed at the moment). She had fabulous numbers at UNC, sporting a 75.5 percent save percentage and 131.5 mins/goal conceded mark in her senior season.

Gi DeMarco (MF, Wake Forest)

One of the pure talents in the draft, DeMarco was a fixture for Wake Forest and provides a versatility that is difficult to find. What keeps DeMarco down the list is primarily her injury history, but a classic No. 8 who can play as a No. 6, DeMarco has calm ball control abilities and fabulous field vision. She’s not a flashy player, preferring to do the dirty work in midfield for a possession-oriented style of play, but she will pop up on the scoresheet every so often.

How to watch the NWSL Draft

  • Date: Saturday, Dec. 18
  • Time: 2 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS Sports Network
  • Streaming: fuboTV, Paramount+, CBS Sports HQ, Twitch (CBS Sports HQ), YouTube (CBS Sports HQ)

The 2022 NWSL Draft will be televised by CBS Sports Network which is available to stream on fuboTV. New users can sign up for fuboTV with a free 7-day trial.

The stream is also available on multiple other channels, including Twitch, YouTube and Paramount+.