Sophomore forward Sophia Smith has declared for the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Draft, she announced on Wednesday. The Portland Thorns, who traded up to secure the first overall pick, are expected to draft Smith.
“After much thought and many conversations with people close to me, I have decided to take the next step in my career and turn professional,” Smith wrote in a message posted to Twitter.
At the 2019 College Cup, Smith was named the Most Outstanding Player as Stanford won the national championship. In the semifinal, Smith scored her second-career hat trick, with both coming in the NCAA tournament. If the national championship is to be her final match in a Stanford uniform, Smith will finish her career with 24 goals and 11 assists.
Smith scored 17 goals and assisted on nine more for Stanford in the 2019 season, despite missing the first four games with a hamstring injury. The injury history stretched back to the 2018 season, when a broken ankle and ligament tears cut her season short.
The situation is similar to Tierna Davidson’s a year ago. Davidson was told by then-U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) head coach Jill Ellis that she would need to participate in the winter trainings in order to be considered for the World Cup squad. So, Davidson left Stanford a year early and was drafted first overall by the Chicago Red Stars.
Smith was one of four current Cardinal invited to the USWNT December identification camp. Soon after, Smith was invited back by head coach Vlatko Andonovski for the January camp in Tampa, Florida from Jan. 5-15.
The final list of draft-eligible players for the 2020 NWSL College Draft includes two Stanford players, Smith and senior center back Sam Hiatt.
If Smith is taken first overall, that would make it three consecutive years a Cardinal player has been drafted first overall. Andi Sullivan ’18 was the first overall selection in 2018 by the Washington Spirit, who a year later took Jordan DiBiasi ’19 third overall and Teagan McGrady ’19 seventh. Both Sullivan and DiBiasi finished their rookie seasons in the top three for Rookie of the Year voting.
Portland sent away Davidson’s national team teammate Emily Sonnett in the move to acquire the draft selection that is expected to be used on Smith.
The draft will take place in Baltimore Thursday at 8:30 a.m. PT.