The Orlando Pride selected North Carolina center back Tori Hansen with the first pick of the third round (No. 25 overall) of the 2023 NWSL Draft. It’s the second center back taken by the Pride in this year’s draft after they took Florida State defender Emily Madril in the first round. The pick came to Orlando from Gotham FC as part of the Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger trade, in which the Pride also received a first-round pick last year and $50,000 in Allocation Money.
Hanson spent four seasons at North Carolina, playing in 65 games with 28 starts. After coming off the bench during her first three seasons, injuries on the North Carolina back line provided the senior with an opportunity to start all 26 games for the Tar Heels during the 2022 campaign. She took advantage of her opportunity, helping her team to the best statistical defense in the ACC.
Finally making her way into the starting lineup, the 2022 season was a breakout year for the 5-foot-10 Hansen, as she was named First Team All-ACC and Second Team All-American by the United Soccer Coaches. She was also named to the Top Drawer Soccer Best XI Team for her stellar senior season. The Tar Heels made it all the way to the College Cup before falling 3-2 in extra time to UCLA in the national championship game.
Prior to attending North Carolina, the Raleigh, NC native was involved in 23 youth USWNT camps and tournaments, making appearances for the U-15, U-17, and U-19 teams.
What It Means for Orlando
Heading into this year’s draft, the Pride had multiple needs and center back depth was one. Two of the team’s first three picks in this draft were two of the best center backs in the college game this past season.
With this pick, the Pride continue rebuilding their center back depth with longtime defender Toni Pressley likely on her way out. Hansen gives the team further depth at the position and, at 5-foot-10, plenty of size. Drafting two center backs this year also gives the Pride the ability to take advantage of the versatility of Carrie Lawrence, who can play center back and outside back.
Here’s a look at some of Hansen’s highlights at North Carolina: