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Two Tar Heels taken with top two picks of the NWSL draft

Ally Sentnor North Carolina Ally Sentnor - The Canadian Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Utah Royals took University of North Carolina's Ally Sentnor, the Atlantic Coast Conference Midfielder of the Year, with the first pick of the NWSL draft Friday.

The 19-year-old sophomore scored 11 goals and adding seven assists for 29 points, all which led North Carolina this season. Sentnor, who can play midfielder and forward, captained the U.S. at the 2022 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Fellow expansion side Bay FC, from the San Francisco Bay Area, also opted for a teenage Tar Heel with the second pick in the form of 18-year-old defender Savy King. The U.S. youth international logged a team-high 2,030 minutes and was named to ACC All-Freshman team.

Sentnor and King were among the five finalists for U.S. Soccer's 2023 Young Female Player of the Year Award which went to Portland Thorns midfielder Olivia Moultrie.

University of Georgia midfielder Croix Bethune went third to the Washington Spirit, which sent defender Sam Staab to the Chicago Red Stars to get the pick. Bethune played three seasons at USC, where she was twice named PAC-12 Midfielder of the Year, before heading to Georgia where she collected four goals and five assists across 15 matches.

Utah used the fourth pick to select BYU midfielder Brecken Mozingo, a senior who led the Cougars in goals (14) and assists (15) this season. Washington then traded midfielder Ashley Sanchez to the North Carolina Courage in exchange for US$250,000 in allocation and the fifth overall pick which it used to select Clemson defender/midfielder Hal Hershfelt.

UCLA forward Reilyn Turner and midfielder Ally Lemos went sixth and ninth overall, respectively, to Racing Louisville and Orlando (via a trade with Angel City). Clemson, Penn State and Stanford also each had two players taken in the first round.

A third Tar Heel, defender Maycee Bell, went to NJ/NY Gotham FC with the final pick of the first round, 14th overall.

Canadian international Zoe Burns went to Utah with the first pick of the third round (29th overall). The 22-year-old defender-midfielder, who was born in the U.S. to Canadian parents, has won two senior caps for Canada.

Canadian forward Amanda West, from the University of Pittsburgh, was selected by the Houston Dash later in the third round (36th overall). The 22-year-old from Burlington, Ont., who has attended a Canadian senior camp, scored 11 goals and added nine assists for the Panthers this season.

Calgary winger Mya Jones, from the University of Memphis, went in the third round (42nd) overall to the San Diego Wave, after a trade with Racing Louisville. The 22-year-old had 11 goals and a team-best 11 assists this season.

The four-round draft was held at the Anaheim Convention Center in conjunction with the United Soccer Coaches Convention.

Canadian goalkeeper Melissa Dagenais had been eligible for the draft but signed with Portugal's SF Damaiense instead. The University of Miami 'keeper was called into Canada's camp late last year by Bev Priestman but did not see action.

Quinn, who goes by one name, is the highest Canadian ever taken in the NWSL draft after going third overall to Washington in the 2018 NWSL draft. West Virginia defender Amandine Pierre-Louis was taken sixth that year by Sky Blue FC.

Defender Sydney Collins went eighth overall to the North Carolina Courage last year. The Oregon-born Collins, who holds dual citizenship thanks to her Canadian-born mother, has won six caps for Canada.

The NWSL regular season starts March 16, one day after the Challenge Cup which pits Gotham FC against the San Diego Wave, which won the NWSL Shield for the best regular-season record.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2024