This spring, Portland Thorns FC kicked off their milestone 10th NWSL season. As the club pursues its third NWSL title, there’s no better time to reflect on some of the memorable moments and milestones from the past decade.
From important international signings to the largest crowds, the “Thorns Honoring 10” series is meant to look back at club history through different lenses over the course of the 2022 season. These lists are not rankings, but instead ten unique things worth remembering.
The series begins this week with a list of some of Portland’s most notable selections in the NWSL College Draft and even includes a couple of undrafted signees who grown into key roles with the club.
Year drafted: 2013
Selection: First Round, No. 8 overall
As Portland’s first-ever NWSL College Draft pick, Williamson’s name will forever be etched in club history. One of the most durable players to wear a Thorns uniform, the defender didn’t miss a single game her rookie season and played all 20 regular season matches in 2015.
Williamson started 45 of the 47 regular-season games she played in as a Thorn and served as team captain in 2015. In her three seasons in the Pacific Northwest, Williamson helped the club win the 2013 NWSL Championship and 2016 Supporters’ Shield.
Year drafted: 2014
Selection: Third Round, No. 25 overall
With Williamson’s retirement in 2017, Emily Menges now holds the title for Portland’s longest-tenured draft pick. Nine seasons after being selected with one of the Thorns’ two lone draft picks that year, Menges continues to be an anchor along the back line.
In 2015, Menges went 1,223 consecutive minutes without committing a foul and in 2016 was selected as the Supporters’ Player of the Year as well as team MVP. With her breakneck speed she uses to cover for teammates as well as her swift defensive instincts – such as her last-ditch headed goal line clearance against the Spirit on May 18 – Menges continues to show why she has been named to multiple NWSL Best XI selections (2016 and 2017 Second XI).
Year drafted: 2016
Selection: First Round, No. 1 overall
When the Thorns traded Alex Morgan to the Orlando Pride in 2015, one of the assets they received in return was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft, which became Emily Sonnett.
The University of Virginia product lived up to her top billing throughout her four seasons as a Thorn, becoming one of the club's most reliable defenders capable of scoring the occasional goal. Her headed goal in the 2017 NWSL Playoffs semifinal against Orlando helped Portland reach the NWSL Championship, which they ultimately won.
Year acquired: 2016
School: University of California, Berkeley
While not drafted, Boureille quickly became a trusted piece in coach Mark Parsons’ midfield, both as a starter and off the bench. She played six seasons with the Thorns – making 66 regular-season appearances – and helped the club win two NWSL Shields as well as an NWSL Championship (2017).
Year drafted: 2017
Selection: Third Round, No. 21 overall
In her five seasons with the Thorns, Lussi made 46 appearances and scored five goals. Most notably, she scored the latest goal in club history with a 90+4’ header in Portland’s 4-3 win against the Orlando Pride in July 2019. Lussi was also part of the 2017 NWSL Championship team as well as the 2021 treble of the NWSL Challenge Cup, NWSL Shield and Women's International Cup.
Year acquired: 2017
School: DePaul University
Another undrafted signing, Kelli Hubly has made herself an indispensable member of the Thorns’ defense. Bursting onto the scene in 2018, she started seven consecutive matches to open the season and has since played an integral role as an important depth piece and eventually as a consistent starter. Hubly has won several trophies in Portland, including the 2017 NWSL Championship, 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup, 2021 Women’s International Champions Cup and 2021 NWSL Shield.
Year drafted: 2018
Selection: Third Round, No. 29 overall
School: Oregon State
A Portland-area native, Bella Bixby grew up in Milwaukie, Oregon, and attended Oregon State before being drafted 29th overall in the 2018 NWSL College Draft. After spending a couple seasons as understudy for Adrianna Franch, Bixby stepped into the starting goalkeeper role midway through the 2021 season and hasn’t looked back.
In 2020, Bixby was one of three players to start each of the four NWSL Challenge Cup preliminary round matches and made four saves in her NWSL debut that June. Bixby took even more positive steps her sophomore season, making 45 saves and holding nine shutouts in 16 starts.
Year drafted: 2020
Selection: First Round, No. 1 overall
Portland’s second ever and most recent No. 1 overall draft pick, Sophia Smith has quickly become one of the club’s most impactful players and an important catalyst on offense. Already a consistent call-up to the U.S. Women’s National Team, Smith finished her first full NWSL season with seven goals and already has five goals in all competitions this season.
Year drafted: 2020
Selection: First Round, No. 2 overall
School: Washington State
While only at the beginning of her third NWSL season, Morgan Weaver already has a career’s worth of memorable moments and clutch goals. Her first professional goal helped Portland knock North Carolina out of the 2020 Challenge Cup, and it was Weaver’s penalty that won the Thorns the 2021 Challenge Cup crown.
Not afraid of the big moment, just a few months after helping the club win the 2021 Challenge Cup, Weaver scored the game-winning goal against Olympique Lyon in the final of the 2021 Women’s International Champions Cup.
With its two early selections of Weaver and Smith, Portland seemingly struck gold in the 2020 NWSL Draft.
Year drafted: 2021
Selection: Second Round, No. 12 overall
School: Penn State
While just games into her rookie season, Sam Coffey has already received plenty of praise for her poise and composure. Christine Sinclair described Coffey as a player who already looks as if she has been in the league for 10 years.
A consistent starter in the Thorns’ midfield, Coffey already plays the part of a seasoned NWSL veteran. As she continues to grow into the role and into new coach Rhian Wilkinson’s system, she has the potential to be a stalwart in the club’s midfield for years to come.