North Carolina Courage Add Firepower, Depth at 2020 NWSL Draft
BALTIMORE - Coming off its second-straight National Women's Soccer League title, the North Carolina Courage added firepower and depth to its already strong squad at the 2020 NWSL Draft in Baltimore on Thursday, as it drafted forward Ally Watt, defender Sinclaire Miramontez, defender Addisyn Merrick, and midfielder Brianne Folds with the sixth, 27th, 28th and 36th picks, respectively.
"I really like what we got," NC Courage head coach Paul Riley said. "Again, we know our kind of players - they all fit our system. We get two defenders, we got a forward and we got a midfielder, so we got good balance in the group of players."
Watt, who became the highest-ever draft pick from Texas A&M, scored a volume of goals with the Aggies during her college career, finding the back of the net 49 times in 90 matches. The Colorado Springs, Co., native earned First-Team All-America honors in both her junior and senior seasons while being named a Mac Hermann Trophy semifinalist in 2018 and 2019. During her time with the Aggies, Watt scored 19 game-winning goals.
"I'm just super excited. The Courage are so successful, obviously," Watt said. "I'm excited to see what we can do this season and I'm ready to do whatever I can to make the team better and get more trophies. I do believe I bring pace on the field, so I'm super excited to be running at the backline, getting some through balls and going to goal - I run a lot."
In 2016, Watt took a redshirt year at Texas A&M to play for the U.S. National Team at the 2016 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Papua New Guinea, where she scored two goals for the US while playing for a coaching staff that included current NC Courage assistant coach Sean Nahas. In 14 career matches with the US U-20 National Team, Watt recorded seven goals.
"Ally's got one thought and that's to get behind backlines and score goals," Nahas said. "She's dynamic. Her separation in the final third is second to none from what I've seen. For us, we have players like Debinha, Denise O'Sullivan, Sam Mewis and Crystal Dunn underneath her to play that final ball in. It's going to be an exciting time for us to have her."
In possession of the final pick of the third round (No. 27) and the opening pick of the fourth round (No. 28), the Courage bolstered its defense with the selections of defenders Sinclaire Miramontez and Addisyn Merrick, who grew up playing with one another at Sporting Blue Valley Soccer Club.
In four seasons with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Miramontez twice earned First-Team All-Big Ten honors as she played in 76 career matches, scoring five goals. Since 2017, the Lenexa, Kan., native has been called into training camp with the US U-19, U-20 and U-23 National Teams.
"Miramontez is very talented. She had an injury last year that slowed her down, but she's back to her best now," Riley said. "She's a great pickup for us."
The reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Merrick started in 78 of her 87 carer matches with the Jayhawks, including all 25 as senior in 2019, as the Lee's Summit, Mo., native helped Kansas win the Big 12 Championship and reach the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Both Merrick and Miramontez have the ability to play at outside back and center back, according to Riley.
"Merrick is very good on the ball. She has great speed, great technical ability," Riley said. "She'll help us down the flank areas and at center back if needed. I think the most important thing is that we got hybrid players, and (Miramontez and Merrick) were the two hybrid players we thought could help us in different positions."
Rounding out the Courage's four picks was midfielder Brianne Folds, a First-Team All-SEC selection at Auburn in 2018. Folds, of Lakeland, Fla., made 76 appearances in four years with the Tigers, recording 24 goals and 25 assists. Folds led Auburn in scoring her junior and senior campaigns.
"To me, she's got a great soccer IQ. She knows how to run the game and is an intelligent player," Riley said. "It's something that we needed. We needed to get another midfielder. She scores goals from that area, too, and assists - she gets points on the board."
Season tickets for the NC Courage's 2020 season are on sale now. Click here to learn more about season tickets or call the Coastal Credit Union Box Office at 919-459-8144 to speak with a ticket representative.
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National Women's Soccer League Stories from January 16, 2020
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