The Orlando Pride have selected Virginia defender Phoebe McClernon with the team’s second selection of the second round in the 2020 NWSL College Draft (No. 14 overall). Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner has said he wanted to see his team get more physical and McClernon’s addition should help with that.
Although just 5-foot-7, McClernon has been described as a defender who can provide the type of physical play that the Pride have been looking for. The West Chester, PA native made 21 appearances (20 starts) in 2019, playing 1,684 minutes and getting 90 or more minutes in a game on nine occasions. McClernon didn’t score a goal or assist on one but that wasn’t her primary function. She attempted just five shots, getting three on target.
Of her 88 career college matches at Virginia, she started 67. She scored one goal and attempted 20 shots (six on target) in her 6,602 career minutes. McClernon was an All-ACC Second Team selection in 2019, helping the Cavaliers post 14 shutouts during her senior year, including seven straight in ACC matches.
She earned All-America Third Team honors by the United Soccer Coaches in 2018 and was named a Best XI Third Team selection by Top Drawer Soccer as a junior. She was named an All-Region First Team selection and an All-ACC First Team selection as well, helping Virginia keep 10 clean sheets.
McClernon earned All-ACC Third Team honors as a sophomore, playing in all 23 games for the Cavaliers in 2017. She led all Cavs non-goalkeepers in minutes played (2,085) and scored her only career collegiate goal against No. 5 Penn State. She appeared in 22 matches (four starts) her freshman season in 2016.
What it Means for Orlando
The Pride continue to address the back line after selecting Konya Plummer earlier in Round 2 and fullback and McClernon’s former Virginia teammate Courtney Petersen at No. 7 overall in the first round. Clearly the club wants to identify players who can step in and help immediately and perhaps add better depth to the back line than the Pride have had to date since joining the league in 2016.
McClernon looks to be versatile enough to play either inside or outside on the back line and seems to have good recovery speed and the ability to body attacking players off the ball. She showed her toughness by playing through injury at Virginia with a cast on her hand. These are qualities the Pride could certainly use. If she makes the team, McClernon could benefit from some defenders’ absences this summer at the Olympics.
Here’s a look at what she can do: