Two Nittany Lions Drafted In 2021 NWSL Draft

Two Penn State women’s soccer stars were selected in the 2021 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Draft Wednesday night.

Sam Coffey will join the Portland Thorns as the No. 12 overall pick, while Kerry Abello will head to Orlando after hearing her name called at No. 24 overall.

“Congrats to Sam and Kerry as well as all of the players selected in the 2021 NWSL Draft! We’re excited to see what the future holds for these two, as well as our other seniors, as they chase their dreams of becoming professional athletes after they finish their careers in Happy Valley!” head coach Erica Dambach said.

Coffey, a midfielder and forward, began her collegiate career at Boston College before transferring to Penn State in 2019 for her junior season.

The New York native made the most of her first and only year in Happy Valley, scoring 11 goals and tallying 10 assists in 25 appearances, leading Penn State to a Sweet Sixteen run at the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

“I am so honored to have been drafted tonight by the Portland Thorns. Though I never could’ve drawn up these exact circumstances, tonight fulfilled my lifelong dream of pursuing a professional soccer career,” Coffey said. “I am so thankful for this incredible opportunity. With that being said, all of my focus now is on winning a national championship with my Penn State women’s soccer family this spring. This team has some unfinished business to attend to! Go Thorns & Go State!”

Coffey will join fellow Penn State alumni Racquel “Rocky” Rodriguez and Britt Eckerstrom in the Pacific Northwest. Rodriguez is most known for being the first Costa Rican to score in a Women’s World Cup.

Coffey will join a stacked attack for the Thorns, which, alongside Rodriguez, includes legendary Canadian forward Christine Sinclair. Portland’s firepower was on full display last fall when it won the NWSL Challenge Cup.

Meanwhile, Abello joins a struggling Orlando Pride team as the No. 24 overall pick with a good chance of breaking into the starting lineup. Abello played nearly everywhere on the field in her three years for Penn State, amassing 15 goals and eight assists in 62 total appearances.

“Being drafted tonight by the Orlando Pride is an incredible honor and has me feeling so humbled. I’ve aspired to play soccer professionally since I started attending NWSL games as a kid, and I am so thankful for the Pride Organization for bringing that dream to fruition,” Abello said. “This opportunity also wouldn’t be possible without my Penn State family. Right now, I am entirely focused and committed to helping this Penn State team reach our full potential this year as there’s lot of work yet to do! We Are Penn State, & Vamos Orlando!”

Abello joins two Nittany Lions with the Pride- Canadian international goalkeeper Erin Mcleod and two-time Women’s World Cup winner Ali Krieger.

Orlando has been punching below its weight lately with the likes of Marta and Sydney Leroux also on the books. Abello’s best assets in Florida will be her positional diversity and youthfulness considering the best players at the club are past their primes.

Both Coffey and Abello will begin their professional careers in April when the league plans on bringing back the NWSL Challenge Cup. Regular-season play will kick off in May.

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About the Author

Otis Lyons

Otis is a sophomore majoring in print journalism and is one of Onward State's associate editors. He lives just north of San Francisco, and is a diehard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Feel free to send over your soccer hot takes to his twitter @otisnlyons1 and instagram @otislyons

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