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The 2022 NWSL Draft is in the books and with the first overall pick, expansion side San Diego Wave FC selected Stanford center back Naomi Girma, followed by WAC Offensive Player of the Year winner Marleen Schimmer out of Grand Canyon with their ninth pick, adding the Pac-12 defender of the year to a roster that includes Alex Morgan and Abby Dahlkemper. The expansion team elected to keep the No. 1 pick, continuing to build its inaugural roster after taking part in Thursday's expansion draft.
Naomi Girma college career
Girma, 21, won a national championship at Stanford in 2019 and was a two-time All-Pac-12 first-team pick (2019, 2021). She started all 20 games in 2021 and scored four goals. Girma has played for the United States' Under-17, U-19, and U-20 teams.
With the No. 2 pick, Racing Louisville FC drafted Jaelin Howell out of Florida State. Rounding out the top five selections were Virginia Tech midfielder Emily Gray at No. 3 (North Carolina Courage), USC midfielder Savannah DeMelo at No. 4 (Louisville), and UCLA forward Mia Fishel at No. 5 (Orlando Pride).
San Diego's expansion counterpart, Angel City FC, did not make their first pick until Round 3 as they landed Illinois midfielder Hope Breslin.
OL Reign picks
The OL Reign were active Saturday, making three trades involving picks. First, the Reign acquired the No. 8 pick from NJ/NY Gotham FC in exchange for the Reign's 2023 first-round pick and $40,000 in allocation money. The Reign also traded midfielder Kelcie Hedge to the Houston Dash for the No. 21 pick and $15,000 in allocation money.
During the draft, the Reign traded the No. 10 pick to the Orlando Pride for a 2023 second-round pick and a player to be named. Defender Phoebe McClernon will be the player heading to Seattle, sources said.
No team had more first-round picks than the North Carolina Courage, who came away with three key pieces to add to each positional core on their roster. They addressed the middle of the park by going with Virginia Tech midfielder Emily Gray at No. 3, followed by the attack at No. 6 with Virginia forward Diana Ordoñez -- who scored 45 goals over three collegiate seasons -- and then the backline with Long Beach State defender Kaitlin Fregulia with the 12th and final pick of the round.
All in all, 50 collegiate players were selected, with Racing Louisville FC and OL Reign boasting the most picks (six) and the Houston Dash with the fewest (No. 44 overall).
The full results for the first round of the draft:
- San Diego Wave FC: Naomi Girma, defender, Stanford
- Racing Louisville FC: Jaelin Howell, midfielder, FSU
- North Carolina Courage: Emily Gray, midfielder, Virginia Tech
- Racing Louisville FC: Savannah DeMelo, midfielder, USC
- Orlando Pride: Mia Fishel, forward, UCLA
- North Carolina Courage: Diana Ordoñez, forward, Virginia
- Kansas City Current: Elyse Bennett, forward, Washington State
- OL Reign: Zsani Kajan, forward, St. John's
- San Diego Wave FC: Marleen Schimmer, midfielder/forward, Grand Canyon
- Orlando Pride: Caitlin Cosme, defender, Duke
- Orlando Pride: Julie Doyle, forward, Santa Clara
- North Carolina Courage: Kaitlin Fregulia, defender, Long Beach State