On the evening of January 12th, the Thorns selected Santa Clara University senior Izzy D'Aquila, marking the end of the forward's college playing career and the dawn of a professional adventure with the Thorns in the NWSL. Not all draft picks get contracts after ending their trial period, but the ever-driven D'Aquila impressed the Thorns' coaching staff in the preseason, signing her to a three year contract, along with fellow draftee and goalkeeper Lauren Kozal, ahead of the 2023 home opener on March 26
And with that, D'Aquila is officially a Thorn.
"It's been very different... I grew up all through high school in southern California and then went to Santa Clara University [in northern California], but even from here to northern California it's so much different," she says. "A lot of rain, which I'm not used to but I've heard the summers and the spring are super pretty so I'm really excited for that."
D'Aquila grew up in a small, suburban community in Orange County, California, but the Pacific Northwest is growing on the 21-year-old.
"I'm trying to get settled and just experience the city," she says. "I've never really lived in a big city like this. But it's been great so far."
D'Aquila racked up no shortage of accolades and records over her soccer career in school: in 2022, D'Aquila made the first team All-West Region, the second team All-America, and is a three-time WCC Offensive Player of the Week. Now, she says, there's even more inspiration to keep pushing herself, describing herself as driven, intense, and competitive on the field.
"I love playing and practicing, getting out in front of the crowds—in Portland in front of the Riveters, that's something that I'm motivated about," she says. "I think [also] my family who has been supporting me through everything, playing my hardest every single game for them."
She adds, "All I want is to score. I have a nose for the goal. Hopefully [I score] a lot of goals. I'm just always working hard, whether its offensively or defensively... making an impact on the game as much as I can. I am hopefully going to be here through 2025, so I want to be able to make this my home and grow not only as a player but as a person, and win as many championships as we can over those years."
We asked D'Aquila about the pre-draft speculations on where she may possibly land, and if she ever had a feeling she would come to Portland.
"I definitely knew it was a possibility, but draft night is super hectic and crazy so you never really know what could happen," she says. "I got picked by one of my top picks with whom I wanted to go to and I'm just excited and grateful for this opportunity."
When speaking about her prior knowledge of the Thorns and women's soccer in Portland, the Mission Viejo native points to the immense support she sees for women's soccer. "I just knew that [the Thorns] had some of the best fans and the city was just so behind them which is awesome to see. I just knew that Portland were a championship team, winning [NWSL] three times now and they breed championship culture which I've already experienced in the four to five weeks that I've been here."
Asked about the news that the entire NWSL is set to be in FIFA 23, D'Aquila says she sees it as an important step to growing women's soccer.
"It's crazy... it's surreal [to think] that you could be in a video game," she says. "We're making strides in the right direction and hopefully young girls and boys and just anyone can play with us [Thorns]. It's about experiencing and growing the game, growing the NWSL and spreading awareness for the league."
"I'm not great," she adds, speaking about her own gaming abilities. "I don't play a lot but I have played [FIFA] every once in a while and will definitely be getting it once [the NWSL update] drops".
"I'm excited to be here, I'm excited for the fans and for the next game and hope to give the fans some fun entertainment this season. I'm ready to make an impact on this team."