After a historic season, two members of the Michigan women’s soccer team are moving onto the top flights. Senior midfielder Raleigh Loughman was drafted by NJ/NY Gotham F.C in the fourth round of Saturday’s NWSL College Draft, while graduate student defender Alia Martin signed a one-year contract with the defending champion Washington Spirit ahead of draft day.
“Alia and Raleigh have been so impactful while here at Michigan and have truly made our program better,” Michigan coach Jennifer Klein said. “We wish them nothing but the best as they live out their dream of being a professional soccer player.”
Martin, a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist this past season, was also named a first-team All-American and received her third consecutive first-team All-Big Ten honors. She was awarded Defensive Player of the Big Ten Tournament in November after helping the Wolverines to their first Big Ten Tournament title since 1999.
After declining to enter the player pool in last year’s College Draft, Martin was one of several fifth-year players across the country allowed to directly sign with a club and forgo the draft process this year.
“I am incredibly excited to join the Washington Spirit team,” Martin said. “It’s humbling, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. It has been a dream of mine to play professional soccer, and I can’t wait to develop even more as a player in the championship culture the Spirit has built. Now, it’s time to get to work, and I’m ready for it.”
Washington, the defending NWSL champions, expect Martin to bolster a stalwart backfield that includes USWNT stars Kelley O’Hara and Emily Sonnett.
“We are very excited that Alia is joining the Spirit,” Spirit coach Kris Ward said in a press release. “…We anticipate she will be a core part of our defense in 2022. We look forward to being a part of her continued development as a player.”
Loughman, the Offensive Player of the Big Ten Tournament, also received first team All-Big Ten honors and was named a first team North Region member by the United Soccer Coaches. She tied for the team lead in goals this season with nine, while outright leading the team in assists (9) and points (27).
NJ/NY Gotham F.C. selected her in the fourth round with the 46th overall pick.
“I am so stoked to join Gotham FC,” Loughman said. “To get the chance to continue my soccer career at the highest level is an absolute dream come true. I can’t wait to continue to learn and develop as a player with Gotham. Though my heart will always bleed Michigan maize and blue, I’m now so excited to don the Gotham blue and black too!”
As of press time, NJ/NY Gotham F.C did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Daily sports writer David Woelkers can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @dawjr98