Racing Louisville FC will have the chance to improve its roster this preseason having selected four prospects in Thursday night’s 2023 NWSL Draft, with Ohio State forward Kayla Fischer leading off the group at No. 16 overall.
Following Fischer, Racing Louisville went on to draft Notre Dame defender Brianna Martinez (No. 17), New Mexico forward Jadyn Edwards (No. 29) and Alabama forward Riley Parker (No. 31). Racing also traded twice along the way to acquire $55,000 in allocation money from the Washington Spirit.
Earlier Thursday, Racing did its biggest piece of business when it traded the No. 4 overall pick to NJ/NY Gotham FC in exchange for the NWSL playing rights to winger Paige Monaghan, $150,000 in allocation money and an international roster spot for the 2023 season.
“In our preparation leading up to today, there was only one center back we wanted, but on draft day, it became clear we weren’t going to have that chance at No. 4,” Racing’s head coach, Kim Björkegren, said from the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, where the draft returned to an in-person format this year. “We sought the best value for our pick, and we moved for a player in Paige Monaghan who has league experience, a great personality and positional versatility. She will be a great addition to our team.
“We are very excited about how the draft played out tonight after doing extensive research on each of our picks. All the work assistant coaches Bev Yanez and Sergio Gonzalez did to prepare for this made the draft seamless for all of us. We’re also really happy to add players who are excited about the prospect of playing for Racing and moving to our great city. We can’t wait to welcome them to our club.”
Thursday’s additions will join a young core of returners for preseason, with players set to report to Louisville later this month. While Racing finished ninth on the table, the squad won three of its last four games — reason for optimism heading into the club’s third campaign.
Louisville’s top draftees appear to fill positions of need, with Fischer a winger coming off a career season at Ohio State. Martinez lines up at, among other spots, right back — a position Racing tended to fill by committee last season.
“I just got done playing five years at Notre Dame, and I feel like I made a pretty big impact there,” Martinez said. “I played at left and right back. I played a little center mid. I played right wingback. I played a lot of positions for them, so I’m excited to embrace any role that the team has for me.”
“I think I’m a composed but hard-working, creative forward who just wants to take on the role of whatever I can do to help the team win,” Parker added. “That role looked different throughout my years at Alabama, but I think it definitely all added together to make me the player I am today. I can’t wait to get to Louisville and play with some phenomenal players and learn from them.”
Racing’s 22-game regular season will play out over seven months starting on Saturday, March 25, and concluding in mid-October. A full schedule is pending, with season, group and premium tickets on sale now by visiting RacingLouFC.com/tickets.
Here’s more on Racing’s 2023 NWSL Draft class…
No. 16: Kayla Fischer (Forward, Ohio State)
A three-time All-Big Ten Conference selection from Kent, Ohio, Fischer scored a career-high eight goals last season for the Buckeyes to go with three assists. She scored in three straight games at one point, including a hat trick in a victory over Illinois. Fischer co-captained Ohio State en route to an NCAA tournament appearance.
No. 17: Brianna Martinez (Defender, Notre Dame)
The Albuquerque, New Mexico, native anchored the defense for a powerhouse Irish team last season, appearing in all 23 games. Notre Dame earned a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed and advanced to the quarterfinals. Internationally, Martinez has already been called up to the United States’ U-23 squad after previously playing at the U-18 through U-20 levels.
No. 29: Jadyn Edwards (Forward, New Mexico)
A standout on and off the field, Edwards scored eight goals and numbered four assists for the Lobos, who won three Mountain West Conference titles during her time there. Edwards is also a two-time Academic All-American from Mill Creek, Washington, who maintains a sterling 4.0 grade-point average and is on pace to graduate with a degree in biology.
No. 31: Riley Parker (Forward, Alabama)
The Flower Mound, Texas, native returned from a torn ACL to last season lead the NCAA with seven game-winning goals. She also ranked sixth in the nation in goals (17) and points (41) while setting a series of school records. Sports Illustrated called Parker’s bounce back a “phenomenon” as the Crimson Tide went 23-3-1, advancing to the semifinals of the NCAA Women’s College Cup.