CARY, NC (February 7, 2022) – The North Carolina Courage have signed each of their 2022 NWSL draftees to one-year contracts with an option for 2023, the club announced today. The newly signed players include midfielder Emily Gray, forward Diana Ordoñez, defender Kaitlin Fregulia, midfielder Haleigh Stackpole, and goalkeeper Marisa Bova, each of whom bolster the Courage roster.
“The additions of Emily, Diana, Kaitlin, Marisa and Haleigh have provided a great energy to the team,” said Head Coach Sean Nahas. “All of these players were on our draft board, and to now have them signed is fantastic. They are eager to learn and build on their already well-established knowledge of the game. The players have taken to them and they have come in and established themselves right away. We look forward to what the future holds for these young, talented players and where each day of training and being in our environment takes them.”
Gray, a midfielder from Virginia Tech, was selected third overall by the Courage. In her senior year, the Sewell, NJ native was one of three players to appear in each of Virginia Tech’s 17 matches, leading the team with 26 points, nine goals, and eight assists. She also broke the single-game school record for assists with four and was subsequently named to the All-ACC Third Team, the United Soccer Coaches Association All-Atlantic Region Second Team, and the All-ACC Academic Team.
“Signing my first professional contract is a dream come true and I would like to thank the NC Courage organization for this opportunity to begin my career,” Gray said. “The environment so far has been fantastic and I hope to grow into my own within this talented team as we look to compete for a championship. This is just the first step and I’m looking forward to the start of the season.”
Also a first-round selection, Ordoñez was drafted by the Courage sixth overall. A forward from the University of Virginia, Ordoñez scored 45 goals, 15 of those being game-winners, and tallied 102 points while with the Cavaliers. In her freshman and junior year, Ordoñez led the ACC in goals. Indicative of her talents, the forward was named a 2021 MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist, a 2021 All-American by United Soccer Coaches, and was thrice named to the ACC Championship All-Tournament Team.
“I am so grateful to have the opportunity to sign with the Courage,” Ordoñez said. “I’m incredibly excited to be starting my pro career and I couldn’t have asked for a better place to be!”
Fregulia was selected at twelfth overall, hailing from Long Beach State University. A tenacious centerback with a plethora of accolades, the Torrance, CA native captained the Beach in her senior season, appearing in all 18 of their regular-season matches. That year, she helped the team to five shutouts and was named the 2021 Big West Co-Defensive Player of the Year, also earning a spot on the 2021 Big West All-Conference First Team and on the United Soccer Coaches All-West Region Second Team.
“I’m so excited to be a part of the Courage and take my soccer career to the next level with this club,” Fregulia said. “I have been dreaming of being a pro since I was a little girl, so this moment is super surreal to me. I’m excited to bring a hard working mentality and willingness to learn and grow to the team.”
With the 29th pick in the second round of the draft, the Courage selected Stackpole, a midfielder from the University of Mississippi and product of the NC Courage Academy. The 21-year-old earned Second Team All-SEC honors during her senior year, starting all 21 matches, scoring five goals and ranking third in the nation with 16 assists on the season. She was also named to the 2021 United Soccer Coaches All-Southeast Region Second Team.
“This is a very special moment for me,” said Stackpole. “I have dreamed of doing this since I was a young girl and now that I am here I insist on being the best I can possibly be day in and day out. I’m excited to play for a winning team and learn from and play with some of the best players in the league. I’m super excited to be coached by Sean and the staff and gain knowledge on how to compete at the top level. I hope to bring an elite mentality and contagious energy that breeds success and assist in creating an environment that pursues excellence.”
With their final pick of the draft, the Courage selected Marisa Bova, a goalkeeper from Purdue University. Bova set several records for the Boilermakers, captaining the team and making 113 saves during the 2021 season and becoming the first goalkeeper to make more than 100 saves in a single season. The Hartland, WI native averaged .91 goals against and a .807 career save percentage, collecting 21 shutouts through four seasons. She was also named to the All-Big Ten Second Team and the Academic All-Big Ten.
“I am beyond grateful to sign with the Courage,” Bova said. “The environment here is special, and I look forward to learning and growing each day.”