Danica Evans was selected 22nd overall by the Orlando Pride from the Colorado Buffaloes in the 2017 NWSL College Draft. She was the Colorado school record holder for shots per game (3.24) and shots on goal per game (1.74). Her 16 goals in two years ranked her eighth all time at Colorado. She was also selected as 2016 First-Team All-Pac-12 and 2016 NSCAA Third-Team All-Pacific Region.
Evans was a solid pick for a Pride team that would be missing Alex Morgan for the first part of the its second season. Unfortunately for Evans, she would have limited opportunity to see the field.
Evans only played in 11 matches (one start) for the Pride, logging a total of 195 minutes. This is not particularly surprising given that she was playing forward on a team that eventually fielded both Marta and Morgan. She was steady if unspectacular with seven shots (four on target), one goal, and no assists. She had a 77.8% passing rate with only 45 passes on the season. She only drew five fouls, committed two fouls, and received no yellow or red cards. Given the amount of talent on the Pride roster, she didn't do quite enough to earn more playing time.
Evans’ best game of the year came very early on, in the home opener against the Washington Spirit. In a game that was Marta’s first appearance for the Pride, it was Evans who provided the equalizer for Orlando to save the point for the home team. The goal was good enough to earn the NWSL Goal of the Week. Evans dribbled around a few Spirit players and found herself in front of an empty net. It was her first and only goal of the season.
2017 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff gave Evans a final composite grade of 5.5 on the season. If you look at her numbers they weren’t outstanding, but they also weren’t bad. She looked like a rookie should, and showed occasional flashes of her potential. The biggest challenge for Evans was getting significant playing time on a team with Marta, Morgan, Chioma Ubogagu, Rachel Hill, and Jasmyne Spencer. I also think that there were not enough “flip throw-in” opportunities for her to highlight her skills.
The Pride exercised their option on Evans’ contract after the 2017 season. With a more stable Pride roster heading into 2018, it is likely that Evans will be relegated to an off-the-bench role barring injuries. It is also possible that others in front of her could get traded. However, even if she doesn’t move up the depth chart, it doesn’t mean that she won’t be growing as a player. Working with her more veteran teammates will help her learn quite a bit about her position. She is still very young and will look to take advantage of whatever playing time she gets in the 2018 season.