The North Carolina Courage added four new selections to their championship squad during the 2020 NWSL College Draft. Here is an analysis of each of them.
The 2020 NWSL season is drawing nearer by the day. And this week, the North Carolina Courage and other clubs continued to prepare for the upcoming season with the 2020 NWSL College Draft held in Baltimore, Maryland.
The defending champions North Carolina Courage added to their arsenal by making four selections to add depth and perhaps future stars to their championship squad. Carolina won’t be relying on these players to make it a third-straight NWSL Championship, but this group brings a new wave of talent that will try to continue the tradition of winning that has been established by the current starters.
Four new faces are entering the NWSL champion roster. Here is a breakdown of what each player brings to the table and what supporters can expect from their new players.
Paul Riley and his coaching staff selected Colorado Springs, Colorado native Ally Watt from Texas A&M University with the sixth overall pick in the first round, making her the highest-ever selection from her respected university.
Watt finished her college career with 49 goals and 12 assists in 90 appearances and 79 starts. In her senior season, Watt finished as the SEC forward of the year and appeared on both the All-American and All-SEC first team in addition to being a Mac Hermann semifinalist. During her sophomore season, she redshirted in order to participate in the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in 2016 where she appeared in five matches and scored two goals. Most recently, she was called into Vlatko Andonovski’s December camp in Bradenton, Florida.
Being the first pick carries expectations, but Watt can rest knowing that the North Carolina Courage aren’t relying on her to immediately score goals. The NWSL is going to need to keep a close eye on Watt as she is on the right team and has the potential to be a menace in the league for the foreseeable future.
Coming from Nebraska University, the North Carolina Courage drafted Sinclaire Miramontez with the 27th overall pick to add depth ar the center-back position. The Lenexa, Kansas native began her career in Nebraska strong, starting all 22 games of her freshman season and finishing with a total of 2,088 minutes en-route to Big Ten All-Freshman honors.
Following her freshman year, Miramontez attended U-19 national team camp as well as U-20 and U-23. A season-ending injury prevented Miramontez from playing her junior season but returned to the pitch to finish her college career while appearing on the Mac Hermann Trophy watchlist starting the 2019 season.
With Abby Erceg and Abby Dahlkemper leading the defense, it is hard to see Miramontez breaking into the starting XI anytime soon. However, with both expected to leave for Olympic duty this summer and potential player losses due to expansion, the rookie may get her chance to shine in the NWSL sooner rather than later.
Immediately following Miramontez’s selection, the North Carolina Courage drafted Lee’s Summit, Missouri native Addisyn Merrick from Kansas University to add yet another center-back to the roster.
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Merrick finished her college career by being named the Big-12 Defender of the Year and an All Big-12 First Team pick while anchoring a Kansas defense that earned 11 shutouts, the second-most in program history. She started all 25 of the Jayhawks’ matches her senior season and helped lead the team to a Big-12 Championship and reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
Much like Miramontez, it is difficult to see Merrick breaking into a star-studded lineup anytime soon. However, Courage fans could be seeing their next center-back duo of the future in these two selections.
The North Carolina Courage closed out their 2020 draft selections when they drafted midfielder Brianne Folds from Auburn University, making her the first Tiger to be selected since the 2012 WPS draft. The Lakeland, Florida native ends her time in Alabama with 24 goals and 25 assists in 79 games played.
Folds started her college career strong, appearing in 24 games and starting in 22 during her freshman season en route to her appearing on the All-SEC Freshman team in 2016. From there she only improved, earning First-Team All-SEC honors in 2018 and Second-Team All-SEC in 2019 and was on the Mac Hermann Trophy watchlist starting 2019. She has appeared in camps for both the U-19 and U-20 USWNT teams and led her Auburn side in scoring her junior and senior season.
If the Courage know how to do anything, it’s how to score goals. So, this team is as difficult to get into as any in the world. The attacking combination of Folds and Watt looks to be something that Courage supporters can anticipate for the future and for years to come.