Naomi Girma taken No. 1 in 2021 NWSL Draft

Dec. 19, 2021, 12:16 p.m.

The 2022 NWSL College Draft took place Saturday afternoon, with Stanford senior defender Naomi Girma and fifth-year midfielder Belle Briede both going to expansion team San Diego Wave FC.

Girma went first overall in the draft, chosen by San Diego over holding midfielder Jaelin Howell. San Diego was awarded the first pick over expansion team Angel City after winning a coin toss. The team was adamant about keeping the first pick, speaking volumes for the value they placed on Girma. 

Girma was the Cardinal’s fourth number-one overall pick in the last five years.

The pick makes sense for the squad, as San Diego has already shown a strong preference for creating a solid defense. The opportunities for Girma are endless as well, working under former English center back Casey Stoney and beside USWNT center back Abby Dahlkemper.

Briede was chosen 27th overall by San Diego as well, giving Girma a familiar face on their new squad. Briede will create depth in the offense, playing alongside and learning from USWNT star Alex Morgan and English national Jodie Taylor. 

Another notable player coming into the squad — and league — for the first time is Santa Clara star Kelsey Turnbow. The forward was drafted in the 2021 draft and traded to the expansion team.

Possible on-field connections between Girma, Briede and Turnbow could see recent Bay Area graduates in all three lines for the new team.

Stanford graduate student defender/forward Jojo Harber also declared but went undrafted this year, giving her the opportunity to join a team during preseason and earn a spot, or seek opportunities elsewhere. 

San Diego Wave FC will start their first season this coming spring.

Jenna Ruzekowicz is a staff writer in the sports section. She is a sophomore from Syracuse, New York majoring in Computer Science. Her teams include: Portland Thorns, Arsenal and Man City. Contact her at jruzekowicz 'at'

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