Ally Sentnor of the University of North Carolina was the No. 1 overall selection in the National Women’s Soccer League draft Friday night, and her Tar Heels teammate, Savy King, was picked second.
The 19-year-old Sentnor who grew up in Hanson, Mass., and graduated from Thayer Academy, was selected by the expansion Utah Royals. She had 11 goals and seven assists last season as a sophomore and was named Atlantic Coast Conference Midfielder of the Year.
More than 200 players were eligible for the draft, which was held at the Anaheim Convention Center alongside the United Soccer Coaches Convention. Over four rounds, 56 players were selected by the league’s 14 teams. The NWSL’s regular season opens on March 16.
The 18-year-old King went to the NWSL’s other expansion club, Bay FC in the San Francisco Bay Area. The defender spent one year with the Tar Heels and was a nominee for US Soccer’s 2023 Young Player of the Year.
“I learned a lot at UNC playing center back and I’ve always been an outside back as well so I’m excited for the next step and to continue learning in my journey as a pro,” King said.
Aside from Utah and Bay, NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman said the process is underway to select a 16th team for the league, with an announcement possible later this year.
The new team would begin play in 2026, joining another expansion team already awarded to an ownership group in Boston.
“We have active due diligence ongoing as we speak with many different groups from many different cities, and we expect that process with take approximately six to nine months,” Berman said.
The Washington Spirit selected midfielder Croix Bethune of Georgia with the third overall pick. The Spirit traded up earlier in the day, acquiring the pick from the Chicago Red Stars in exchange for defender Sam Staab.
“We can’t say enough about Sam’s reliability and defensive acumen over her five years with the team,” Spirit general manager Mark Krikorian said.
The Royals took BYU attacker Brecken Mozingo with the No. 4 pick. Mozingo is from Sandy, Utah, a Salt Lake City suburb and the location of the Royals’ stadium. Mozingo, who had 14 goals and 15 assists for the Cougars as a senior last season, was a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy given to the nation’s top college players.
The Spirit also had the fifth pick in the draft, acquiring it from North Carolina in exchange for US national team forward Ashley Sanchez and $250,000 in allocation money. The Spirit drafted Hal Hershfelt of Clemson to round out the top five.
Sanchez played for the United States at last summer’s Women’s World Cup. She has appeared in 27 matches with the national team since 2021 and has three goals.
There were a few other moves on draft day. The Houston Dash signed free agent forward Yuki Nagasato through 2025. Nagasato played the past two seasons with the Chicago Red Stars.
This was the first offseason in which players in the 10-year-old league were eligible for free agency. Defending league champions FC Gotham made the biggest splash, signing national team players Crystal Dunn, Tierna Davidson, Rose Lavelle, and Emily Sonnett over the past two weeks.
Angel City acquired midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard from the San Diego Wave for $40,000 in allocation money earlier Friday.
Defender Arin Wright was traded by Chicago to Racing Louisville for the No. 15 pick in the draft and $125,000. Wright is from Kentucky and played for the Wildcats.