The Orlando Pride made midfielder Nickolette Driesse out of Penn State their fourth-round selection (32nd overall) in the 2017 NWSL College Draft. Coming off an All-Big Ten and All-Big Ten Tournament team performance in her final year in Happy Valley, where she scored a goal and added six assists, Driesse seemed a solid addition late in the draft for Tom Sermanni.
But with the team typically playing a 4-3-3, and with Alanna Kennedy moving up into the midfield from the back line mid-season, Driesse found a lot of veteran competition for just a few slots upon her arrival in Orlando. As a result, the rookie saw few opportunities for playing time in her first year as a professional, but she did show some glimpses of the talent that caught Sermanni’s eye in her brief appearances.
Driesse appeared in only four matches in 2017 — all off the bench — totaling 47 minutes on the field during her rookie year. However, she was quite active in her time on the pitch, averaging nearly a touch per minute with 43 total touches. She also attempted 33 passes, completing an impressive 81.8%. Considering how little time she got at game speed over the season, that bodes well for the Wayne, NJ, native. She didn’t attempt a shot but she did manage two clearances on defense.
On Aug. 12, the Pride hammered Sky Blue FC at home, 5-0. It was a complete team effort that day, and many players had outstanding games against NWSL MVP Sam Kerr and company. Driesse got into the game in the second half for a season-high 21 minutes — nearly half her season’s total. She displayed her skills in completing 91% of her passes in that game and earning a free kick with her movement. It was her second consecutive appearance, after she had played 14 minutes in the previous game just four days earlier against the Washington Spirit. Even though she played only four minutes the remainder of the season, Driesse showed the promise that prompted the Pride to draft her in 2017.
Final 2017 Grade
Due to playing only 47 minutes spread across four games, The Mane Land has to give Driesse a grade of incomplete for her rookie year. We definitely saw some good things in those brief cameo appearances, but we also saw a few mistakes that could be overcome with more playing time.
The Pride exercised their option on Driesse for 2018, so she’s still under contract heading into next season. With Camila recovering from a severe knee injury and both Kennedy and Dani Weatherholt mulling over new contract offers, the potential is there for Driesse to earn some more playing time in 2018, particularly in the early part of the season. It’ll be up to the Penn State product to give Sermanni reasons to consider her for a bigger role when the preseason rolls around. At this point, I’m projecting Driesse to be primarily a depth player next year unless the club has issues re-signing Weatherholt or Kennedy, in which case she could find herself becoming a much more critical player for the 2018 Pride.
Previous 2017 Player Season in Review Posts (Date Published)
- Dani Weatherholt (11/17).