Church selected 30th in NWSL Draft by Washington Spirit

PHILADELPHIA -- Penn State women's soccer centerback Whitney Church (Ashburn, Va.) has been selected as the 30th overall pick in the 2015 National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) Draft at the annual National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Convention Jan. 16 in Philadelphia. Church was selected by the Washington Spirit, marking the third-consecutive year a Nittany Lion was chosen in a women's soccer professional league draft.

Church joins Penn State alumni Ali Krieger (2003-06), Joanna Lohman (2000-03), Christine Nairn (2009-12) and Tiffany Weimer (2002-05) on the Spirit's roster.

"Washington Spirit is incredibly fortunate to gain the rights to such a quality player and even better person," head coach Erica Walsh said. "Whitney has been a pleasure to coach on and off the field and truly represents the essence of a Penn State women's soccer player."

An NSCAA All-America first team selection, Church captured her second Big Ten Defender of the Year title and second NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region first team nod in 2014. She was a M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Award semifinalist, Penn State's 15th honoree.

This season, Church commanded one of the top defenses in the nation, which allowed more than one goal just twice and posted nine clean sheets. She helped mentor the Nittany Lions' 11 freshmen, four of whom started 20-or-more matches. Church also scored a goal against Ohio State (9/19) and assisted on the game-winner versus Nebraska (10/24).

Over her career, Church helped lead the Nittany Lions to NCAA Tournament appearances each season in the Blue and White. Penn State advanced to its first National Championship during her sophomore season and its 10th quarterfinal appearance her senior year.

Church started 89 of Penn State's 100 matches from 2011-14 and rounds out her time in Happy Valley as Penn State's all-time leader in minutes played (8,243). The two-time Big Ten Defender of the Year was named to an All-Big Ten team following each of her four campaigns. She was an NSCAA All-Great Lakes second team selection in 2013, in addition to her first team picks in 2012 and 2014.

The NWSL is a nine-team women's professional soccer league that will begin its third season in the spring of 2015. U.S. Soccer has played a major role in organizing and running the league to ensure a business model with a focus on sustainability.   

Last Updated January 23, 2015