Croix Bethune
By: NWSL Editor
6 Exciting Rookies To Watch This Season

Here are six rookies who have electrified the NWSL this season so far.

Croix Bethune, Midfielder (USC/University of Georgia, Washington Spirit): If you had the privilege of watching Croix Bethune’s college career, it would come as no surprise that her transition to the professional stage has been seamless. Bethune picked up many accolades with USC and then the University of Georgia–three consecutive First Team All-Pac 12 (2020-2022) honors, a Second Team All-SEC recognition in 2023, a MAC Hermann semifinalist in 2021, Pac-12 Midfielder of the Year award in back-to-back seasons (2021-2022), and finally, SEC Tournament MVP in 2023. Since being drafted by the Spirit, she’s returned their trust in spades, scoring a game winner in their home opener match against Bay FC, netting her second rookie goal on the road in Houston, scoring against the defending champions, and assisting in four goals in two matches. As she continues to develop alongside fellow rookies and with the guidance of her more veteran teammates, she’s surely a player NWSL fans will enjoy watching for years to come.

Hal Hershfelt, Midfielder (Clemson, Washington Spirit): Picked fifth in the draft, Hal Hershfelt’s list of accolades and accomplishments with Clemson reads like a CVS receipt. Marking every year with conference and program honors, Hershfelt played 99 games for her university, starting in all but two, and had 28 goal participations. She’s continued that understated impact as a rookie for the Spirit, joining fellow rookie Bethune on her club’s goal leaderboard with two high quality goals that belie her experience. It’s hard to predict how high her ceiling is, at this point it seems limitless. But with the imminent arrival of incoming coach Jonatan Giráldez, who has coached some of the most talented midfielders in the world, the stage is set for Hershfelt to ascend to even greater heights. If there was a shortlist for 2024 NWSL Rookie of the Year, Hershfelt is surely on it.

Savy King, Defender (UNC, Bay FC): Despite just a single year in college, Savy King was picked a few minutes after UNC teammate Ally Sentnor. Since then, she has seamlessly transitioned into her role as a fullback for Bay FC, assisting the game winning goal at home against Reign FC – their first home win – and earning herself six starts in eight games. King has a host of experienced defenders sharing the backline with her to help her continue to develop, not to mention the likes of Head Coach Albertin Montoya, who has been guiding the careers of young talent in Northern California for many years. And with a budding national team career on the horizon, NWSL fans will surely become familiar with the name Savy King.

Ally Sentnor, Forward (UNC, Utah Royals FC): Ally Sentnor has been having an incredible rookie season so far, finding the back of the net twice, both times from shots outside the box, and assisting fellow rookie Olivia Smith Griffits’ first goal and Dana Foederer’s first NWSL goal. Her consistent presence in the starting lineup underscores not only her indispensable role within Utah's young squad, but her willingness and ability to step up. It’s safe to say being the first overall pick wasn’t a fluke, if that was in any doubt after her impressive career with the Tar Heels where she scored 21 goals and had 9 assists in only two years. As she continues to seamlessly transition into the professional realm under the guidance of head coach Amy Rodriguez, she’ll be a player to watch.

Reilyn Turner, Forward (UCLA, Racing Louisville FC): California born-and-raised, Turner led UCLA in goals in 2023 and came in second in assists, earning her program further fame when she was awarded its first ever Pac 12 Forward of the Year. In 2022, she scored the championship game-tying goal with 16 seconds left, keeping her team in a game they would ultimately win. And after seven matches for Racing – four of which she featured in the starting lineup – Turner is her team’s assist leader, cementing herself in the rebuild that Bev Yanez is leading in Louisville, and has already scored her first two professional career goals–one of which was against the 2023 NWSL Champions.

Madi Curry, Defender (Princeton, Angel City FC): The 2024 NWSL Draft was brimming with talent from top to bottom, and this was exemplified when Madi Curry, a neuroscience major from Princeton, was chosen as the 51st pick by her hometown team, Angel City FC. Curry immediately caught the attention of ACFC General Manager Angela Hucles Mangano with her unwavering work ethic, fierce determination, and seamless transition into the professional realm during preseason. These qualities solidified her spot on the final roster and since her debut, Curry has been instrumental for ACFC’s backline, scoring a goal in her inaugural start and fortifying the defense alongside seasoned teammates against some of the world's most formidable attackers. In essence, Curry embodies ACFC's vision for the future – a beacon for talented young Angelenos poised to leave their mark on the sport given the chance.

Honorable Mentions: The 2024 season has been an incredible one for NWSL fans, marked by the introduction of two expansion teams, the emergence of exceptionally skilled rookies, and the arrival of elite international talent poised to leave their imprint on the league. While this list highlighted many notable players new to the league, there are several others who undoubtedly warrant attention from fans:

  • Angel City FC boasts a formidable trio of U-18 talents in Kennedy Fuller, Gisele Thompson, and Casey Phair, demonstrating a club that is willing and able to invest in young talent.
  • Houston Dash's UNC grad, Avery Patterson, has demonstrated exceptional agility and awareness in the Dash’s midfield, earning herself four starts for her team. Their forward from Pittsburgh, Amanda West, has also shown she’s a player to watch.
  • Kansas City Current's U-18 forward, Alex Pfeiffer, left an indelible mark by scoring on her debut at the club’s home opener, signaling her potential to become a standout player in the league.