The Orlando Pride have never selected twice in the first round of the NWSL College Draft before today. In fact, the Pride had only ever made one first-round selection in the team’s history and that came back in 2016. But after acquiring the No. 3 overall pick earlier today, the No. 7 overall selection was the club’s second pick of the first round and the Pride picked up versatile Virginia midfielder/defender Courtney Petersen.
Petersen, a 5-foot-5 native of Canton, MI, started all 19 games she played for the Cavaliers during her senior season in 2019, playing 1,553 minutes. She scored one goal with four assists, getting six of her 18 shots on goal. Petersen played at least 18 games in all four of her seasons at Virginia, finishing with 78 games played (58 starts), 5,084 minutes played, five goals, 12 assists, 105 shots and 42 shots on goal.
As a senior, Petersen helped lead Virginia to the NCAA women’s soccer tournament, beating Radford before the Cavs bowed out to eventual Final Four team Washington State.
Capable of playing in the midfield or at fullback, Petersen excelled with the Cavs, earning All-Region First Team honors her season season after making the second team in 2018. She was second-team All-ACC as a senior, when she missed three matches due to injury. Two of her four assists in 2019 were on game-winning goals. As part of the defensive unit, Petersen helped Virginia keep seven consecutive shutouts in league play as a senior.
In 2016, after her ACC All-Freshman Team season of 2015, she competed in the U-20 World Cup with the U-20 USWNT. She previously represented the United States at the U-14, U-15, and U-17 levels. On the youth level Petersen was an NSCAA Youth All-American, and was named to several ECNL Top 11 squads while playing with the Michigan Hawks.
What it Means for Orlando
Petersen fills a position of need for the Pride. She has a good left foot and can get forward but is also adept at defending. This is a player who could win the starting left back spot in preseason camp. Marc Skinner could move Carson Pickett into the midfield or make her a valuable backup to strengthen the bench, but it certainly appears that the left fullback spot has improved with this selection.
Petersen comes from a top-notch program and has served in the national team youth setup, earning valuable experience at the highest levels of the sport along the way. This should be viewed as a good selection by the Pride for the moment, and time will tell how Petersen develops as a player.
Here’s a look at what she can do: