Doniak, Rocarro, Sonnett

With top two picks in hand for 2016 NWSL College Draft, Thorns FC's Mark Parsons aiming for "big impact" players

PORTLAND, Ore. – Looking back at the history of the NWSL draft over the past two seasons, it's clear that the top talent goes quickly.

In 2014, the Washington Spirit, then-coached by current Thorns FC coach Mark Parsons, drafted Crystal Dunn with the number one overall pick in the draft. The next year saw the Houston Dash draft U.S. Women's National Team standout Morgan Brian with its first pick.

On Monday, Portland Thorns FC acquired the top two picks in the 2016 NWSL College Draft via a series of trades, giving the team the unique opportunity to draft not only one high-impact player, but potentially to draft two.

“We're picking number one and number two so they're coming in to play a big role,” Parsons said.

“It's very clear that we have two distinctive players in mind,” he added. “There are definitely four, five, six players [in this draft] that very clearly can have a big impact in the league.”

And Parsons’ experience with this valuable pick helps. As head coach of the Spirit, he developed the ultra-talented Dunn into the league's leading goalscorer and MVP during the 2015 season.

Now Parsons has both of the first two selections in the 2016 NWSL College Draft, providing him with the opportunity to shape the Thorns' roster for years to come.

“If everything comes together, if the transition is smooth, numbers one and two out of a draft class—you can go back through almost every draft—they've had major impacts. And I have no doubts that the players we're thinking of can do the same here,” Parsons said.

Ahead of the draft, PortlandThornsFC.com takes a look at some of the top collegiate prospects in this year's draft.

Janine Beckie, Forward, Texas Tech University
Beckie, a Colorado native and Canadian international, has played a crucial role in building the women's soccer program at Texas Tech. Last year, Beckie was named a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist after scoring 17 goals for the Red Raiders.

Rachel Daly, Forward, St. John's University
The Harrogate, England native scored an astounding 23 goals in her first full season at St. John's in 2013. That year, Daly became the first-ever St. John's player to be named an NSCAA All-American. So far in 2015, Daly has scored nine goals, bringing her three year total with the Red Storm to an even 40 goals.

Makenzy Doniak, Forward, University of Virginia
Doniak (above left), a senior at the University of Virginia, is one of the most decorated and experienced forwards playing in collegiate soccer. In both 2013 and 2014, Doniak was a Hermann Trophy semifinalist and First-Team NSCAA All-American. Doniak also represented the U.S. in the 2014 FIFA Women's U-20 World Cup.

Cari Rocarro, Defender, University of Notre Dame
Rocarro (above middle) is an experienced defender, having played extensively for the U.S. youth national teams, captaining the U-20s at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. In 2014, the versatile Rocarro was named to the All-ACC First Team after a standout junior season.

Raquel Rodriguez, Forward, Penn State University
A team captain and Costa Rica native, Rodriguez scored 17 goals in her first three seasons with the Nittany Lions. Rodriguez also has extensive international experience, scoring Costa Rica's first-ever World Cup goal in a 1-1 draw with Spain in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada.

Abby Smith, Goalkeeper, University of Texas
Smith, a senior at the University of Texas, ranks among the very best goalkeepers in the NCAA. She recently made 10 saves and helped the Longhorns hold on for a 2-1 victory over 17th ranked Texas Tech. In August, Smith even scored her first goal with a 90-yard punt that caught the opposing goalkeeper out of position.

Emily Sonnett, Defender, University of Virginia
Sonnett (above right) is currently ranked as the nation's third best female collegiate player by TopDrawerSoccer. The Marrieta, Ga. native was named the College Cup Most Outstanding Defender after the 2014 NCAA season and has scored 11 goals from her position in defense in four years with Virginia. Sonnett also received her first USWNT senior team national cap Sunday as the U.S. beat Brazil 3-1. The defender played the full 90 in the victory.

Cheyna Williams, Forward, Florida State University
After transferring to Florida State University before the 2014 season, Williams scored 14 goals for the Seminoles, who went on to win their first NCAA championship in school history. Williams' performances that season earned her First Team MVP recognition from Soccer America. So far in 2015, Williams has tallied 11 goals in a little over 600 minutes played.

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