Utah Royals FC Make Seven Picks In 2024 NWSL Draft

Jan 12, 2024, 10:39 PM | Updated: Jan 17, 2024, 3:36 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Ahead of the club’s return to the pitch, Utah Royals FC made seven selections and two trades during the 2024 NWSL Draft.

Utah Royals FC picks in 2024 NWSL Draft

The 2024 NWSL Draft was held in Anaheim, California on Friday, January 12.

During the four-round selection process, the Royals made the following draft picks:

First Round

No. 1 overall pick: Ally Sentnor – Forward/Midfielder (North Carolina)

About Ally Sentnor

The Hanson, Massachusetts native played for the Tar Heels from 2021-23. After suffering a season-ending injury during an exhibition as a freshman, Sentnor made an immediate impact for UNC in 2022. During the last two seasons, Sentnor recorded 21 goals, nine assists, 165 shots, and 62 shots on goal in 48 matches. Sentnor was named the 2023 ACC Midfielder of the Year.

“It is absolutely unreal. It is surreal. I’m still wrapping my brain around it. I’m still in shock and awe. I’m just so grateful that Utah believes in me and wants me. I think it’s a great opportunity and I can’t wait to help the team and just be a part of that group of players that have been the number one pick,” Sentnor told the media after she was selected with the top pick.

No. 4 overall pick: Brecken Mozingo – Forward (BYU)

About Brecken Mozingo

The Sandy, Utah native began her college career at UCLA in 2019. Following a lone season with the Bruins, Mozingo returned to the Beehive State by transferring to BYU. During her four seasons in Provo, Mozingo was a standout player. She helped the Cougars reach the Big 12 Conference title game in their first season as a member of the league. In 2023, Mozingo and the Cougars reached the College Cup semifinals. Mozingo received All-America honors and was named a MAC Hermann Trophy finalist in 2023.

Shortly after being drafted, Mozingo spoke to the media about landing with her hometown Royals. Mozingo told KSL Sports that the “mental aspect” of her talent-filled game is the top quality she brings to the professional game. She discussed the edge that she plays with and how excited she is to bring that to the Royals.

“You’ve heard the phrase that it’s 90 percent mental, 10 percent skill. I think that’s the number one thing that I walked away from BYU going, Okay, I really made huge improvements in is my mental game. It’s so crucial,” Mozingo told KSL Sports. “All the greats like Kobe Bryant and Steph Curry, like all these, all these people, I’m sure even Messi, know how important it is and have expressed to the public how important it is to keep your mental straight. And I think that’s just something that’s really improved, or I’ve improved upon, and I’m just excited right now to improve upon it even more and better myself as a sister, a daughter, not only a player, but also as a wife one day.”

Mozingo also praised No. 1 overall pick Ally Sentnor and the talent she brings to Utah. Mozingo and Sentnor squared off during BYU’s Elite 8 win over North Carolina. Now the duo will be teammates in Sandy, Utah.

“Knowing the level of talent that you faced previously will be on your side moving forward, it’s gonna be awesome. Like I said earlier, she’s a great, great player, very technical, and also knows the game very, very well,” Mozingo said of Sentnor. “Honestly, I was kind of surprised because I believe she scored the third goal and it actually ricocheted off me into the goal. I was bitter about it. I was like, oh man, like I was right there, it was just inches away, but in terms of us being teammates, I’m just so stoked. She’s an unbelievable player.”

Second Round

No. 16 overall pick: Lauren Flynn – Forward/Defender (Florida State)

About Lauren Flynn

The Arlington, Virginia native was a two-time national champion as a member of the Seminoles. During her four seasons at Florida State, Flynn recorded seven goals, three assists, 39 shots, and 20 shots on targets in 79 games.

No. 20 overall pick: Olivia Smith-Griffiths – Defender (BYU)

About Olivia Smith-Griffiths

The Eagle, Idaho native is headed to the NWSL following her junior season at BYU. She began her career with the Cougars in 2019 but played in only one game during the 2019-20 season. She helped the Cougars reach the Big 12 Conference title game in their first season as a member of the league last season. In 2023, Smith-Griffiths and the Cougars reached the College Cup semifinals. During his time in Provo, Smith-Griffitts recorded four goals, 19 assists, 37 shots, and 16 shots on goal in 82 matches.

No. 21 overall pick: Trade to Houston Dash in exchange for $120K allocation

No. 26 overall pick: Emma Jaskaniec – Forward/Midfielder (Wisconsin)

About Emma Jaskaniec

The Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin native played for the Badgers from 2019-23. During her career in Madison, Wisconsin, Jaskaniec recorded 37 goals, 15 assists, 198 shots, and 101 shots on target in 91 matches.

Third Round

No. 29 overall pick: Zoe Burns – Midfielder/Defender (USC)

About Zoe Burns

The Issaquah, Washington native played for the Trojans from 2020-23. During her four seasons at Southern California, Burns posted six goals, 10 assists, 44 shots, and 25 shots on goal in 68 matches.

No. 33 overall pick: Cristina Roque – Goalkeeper (Florida State)

About Cristina Roque

The Winter Garden, Florida native was a two-time national champion as a member of the Seminoles and played at Florida State from 2020-23. During her four seasons with FSU, Roque recorded 145 saves with a save percentage of 76.3 percent in 67 games. She posted a 59-6-2 record with the Seminoles.

Fourth Round

No. 44 overall pick: Traded to Angel City FC in exchange for $15K allocation

Local players selected in NWSL Draft

In addition to the former BYU players who landed with Utah Royals FC, multiple local standouts found new homes with other teams.

No. 23 overall pick: Olivia Wade-Katoa – Forward/Midfielder/Defender (BYU)

NWSL Club: Portland Thorns FC

No. 25 overall pick: Kelsey Kaufusi – Defender (Utah State)

NWSL Club: Portland Thorns FC

No. 30 overall pick: Jamie Shepherd – Midfielder (BYU)

NWSL Club: Bay FC

No. 55 overall pick: Laveni Vaka – Defender (BYU)

NWSL Club: Bay FC

About Utah Royals FC

The Royals announced the club’s return to the Utah and the National Women’s Soccer League for the 2024 season on March 11.

Originally founded in November 2017, the Royals played in Utah from 2018-20. The franchise was moved to Kansas City in 2020 and plays in Missouri under the “Currents” nickname.

The Royals were first established in Sandy, Utah as an NWSL expansion club. The team played as the Royals for three seasons and held its home matches at America First Field, formerly known as Rio Tinto Stadium, which was also the home of Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake.

In December 2020, the NWSL announced that the Royals would cease to operate in Utah and the club’s players were transferred to Kansas City.

In January 2022, a new Real Salt Lake ownership group, led by David Blitzer and Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith, took hold of the option to bring an NWSL club back to the state.

The Royals return to NWSL play in the 2024 season.

Kyle Ireland is a Sports Producer and Locals in the NFL Insider for KSLSports.com. Listen to Ireland on Yards After College: An NFL Podcast. Follow him on X (@kyleireland), Threads (@kyleirelandksl), and Instagram (@kyleirelandksl).

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Utah Royals FC Make Seven Picks In 2024 NWSL Draft