Updated on Jan. 14 at 2:12 p.m. to include quotes from Courage head coach Paul Riley and technical advisor Charlie Naimo.
With its three picks in the 2021 NWSL college draft, the NC Courage selected forward Deanne Rose, defender Alyssa Malonson and defender Myra Konte.
The Courage went for an experienced player with its first-round pick, going for Canadian international Deanne Rose from the University of Florida.
Rose made 46 appearances during her college career, scoring 19 goals. In addition to her games for Florida, the 5-foot-5-inch forward has 48 caps for the Canadian National Team, scoring nine, including a goal in the 2016 Olympic bronze-medal game, helping her team to its second consecutive bronze medal.
"She’s a full international in the first round and that's huge for us and obviously we really like her,” said Courage head coach Paul Riley in a press release. “She's a really good player, a smart player, and a good athlete too. She's a huge upside and we're excited to have her.”
With its second pick, the Courage looked to cover one of its major needs: a left-footed defender. Riley found that player in Auburn’s Alyssa Malonson. Malonson played 69 games for Auburn, racking up 18 assists in her time with the Tigers.
“We looked at all the left footers in the draft and Alyssa was high on our list and didn't think she'd last to 20,” said Riley. “She's obviously super quick, she's direct, she goes at players, and she's great one-on-one. The mentality she's got suits what we want and we're excited to get her.”
In the third round, the Courage went back to the SEC for another defender, this time picking up 2020 SEC Tournament MVP Myra Konte from Vanderbilt. Konte played 56 games for Vanderbilt across four seasons, being named to the SEC All-Tournament Team twice.
“Myra comes highly recommended from not only her coach but some friendly competition in the SEC,” said technical advisor Charlie Naimo. “The toughness that she brings and watching some of the things she does, she’s another potential left-back for us.”
The Courage was in need of a defender with Jaelen Daniels' retirement last season and Addisyn Merrick’s selection in the expansion draft. On top of that, Abby Dahlkemper might also be leaving, with the Athletic’s Meg Linehan reporting that the center back will be joining USWNT teammates Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle in Manchester later this month. The move has not been confirmed by either the Courage or Manchester City.
While neither will likely be able to give the Courage the same production as Daniels right away, the two will be able to compete with each other for a spot on the left side of the Courage’s backline.
Though she is no longer with the team after being selected in the expansion draft, Merrick was a fourth-round pick by the club and her stellar start with the Courage should bode well for both Malonson and Konte. Riley has shown he is willing to trust young defenders and one of, or possibly both, should see a lot of playing time in 2021.