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2024 NWSL Draft Recap: Payton Linnehan Selected 11th Overall

By Will Pipicelli, 01/11/24, 11:45AM EST


5 Draft-Eligible Players T-2 Amongst All Youth Soccer Clubs

Payton Linnehan was selected 11th overall by the Portland Thorns in the 2024 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Draft last week, the second consecutive year a former FC Stars player was drafted in the first round. 

Linnehan, a forward from Penn State, was one of five former FC Stars players who registered for the Friday Night’s NWSL 2024 Draft, tied for the second-most entries of any clubs across the world. She joins Olivia Wingate as the only players from the club to ever be drafted in the first round. 

The native of Milford, MA, spent five seasons having a tremendous impact on the Nittany Lions, especially when it mattered most. She is just the fourth player in school history with two career hat tricks, including one in the opening round of the 2023 NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament. During her freshman season in 2019, she was named the Big Ten Tournament Offensive Most Valuable Player after scoring the winning goal in overtime of the title game. Ahead of tomorrow’s draft, Linnehan was named by Top Drawer Soccer as a Top 10 Forward in the draft pool. 

Linnehan joins a talented roster in Portland led by USWNT players Sophia Smith & Becky Sauerbrunn. Goalkeeper Shelby Hogan, herself a former FC Stars player, is also part of the 2022 NWSL Championship winning team. 

Linnehan, Anna Bagley, Jaydah Bedoya, Alexis Legowski & Grace Paradis were all eligible to be selected into North America’s highest-ranking professional women’s soccer league in the draft last week. The FC Stars alumnae were 5 of 237 draft-eligible players. 

According to the official draft entry list released by the NSWL, FC Stars was tied for the second-most draft-eligible players for any youth soccer program in the world with La Roca FC. North Carolina Courage Academy led all clubs in the world with six draft-eligible players.  

FC Stars had the most draft-eligible players than any other club in New England for the second straight year. Six players entered their names in the 2023 NWSL draft, tied for the third most of all clubs.

Bagley, an attacking midfielder from Virginia Commonwealth University, was a staple for the Rams throughout her career. She started every game the last four seasons, earning Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Team Honors in the last two. This past season saw Bagley lead the conference with nine assists. 

Bedoyah spent her last season of college soccer at West Virginia University. After playing the previous three seasons at the University of Connecticut, the forward featured in every game for the Mountaineers this fall. 

Legowski recently finished her five-year career at Northeastern University where she was a bedrock in the midfield. She started and played in all 77 games during her time with the Huskies, earning accolades on & off the field during that time. She was named to an All-Conference team each year of her career, including two times on the Colonial Athletic Association First Team. Legowski was also named to the United Soccer Coaches’ All-East Scholar team in 2021. 

Lastly, Paradis capped off her collegiate career in memorable style at Florida Gulf Coast University. The midfielder played every minute in the Eagles run to the Atlantic Sun Tournament title while also not missing a second of their near upset of #2 Texas Tech in the NCAA Tournament. Paradis, who began her time in school at St. John’s, started all 22 games this past season for FGCU. 

The 2024 NWSL season begins Friday, March 15. Watch the action play out all season long live on Amazon Prime, ION, Paramount +, and the ESPN family of networks.