The Portland Thorns release two new player announcements in quick succession; yesterday the Thorns signed the Australian forward Ashleigh Sykes, and today their signed Western New York Flash’s 26th 2016 draft pick, Britt Eckerstrom. As you can tell, we’re well into preseason! Eckerstrom joins Penn State Alum Mallory Webber in the Rose City — the two were instrumental in guiding the Nittany Lions to a national championship in 2015.
Since the announcement that Michelle Betos was leaving for Norway in early February, there has been anticipation as to who the Thorns chose to bring on in this position. In an interview Parsons explained that Franch and Betos were always goalkeeper 1 and 1A; there was always competition for the starting space. Now that Betos is gone, it looks like Parsons is looking to bring in a keeper that will keep Franch on her toes. “We are excited to welcome Britt to Portland; she is a talented young goalkeeper with a tremendous work ethic and desire to be the best,” Parsons is quoted in the official Thorns press release. “Britt brings great athletic ability and quality distribution, and I look forward to seeing her develop and compete under the guidance of Thorns FC goalkeeper coach Nadine Angerer.”
“Britt was outstanding in the games she played last year and she has a great opportunity in Portland to become their starting keeper,” Riley said in the North Carolina Courage release. “We want to thank her for her commitment to the Championship winning team. She was a huge presence in the locker room and a tremendous asset to our club. She has a very bright future ahead of her and we wish her sincere wishes for this year and rest of her career.”
This new addition to the roster should make some fans wary; as of right now there are 21 players on the Thorns roster. Although neither Kendall Johnson nor Meg Morris have been cleared to play yet, if they look to join the roster after preseason, then Parsons will have to make some cuts, as the NWSL still has a 20 player cap.
In return for the keeper, the Thorns traded away two fourth round draft picks in the 2018 NWSL College Draft. One of those picks was gained by the Thorns earlier in the pre-season by their Rachel Hill trade with Orlando.
The official press release is copied below:
PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC have acquired goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom from the North Carolina Courage in exchange for two fourth-round picks in the 2018 NWSL College Draft, it was announced today.
“We are excited to welcome Britt to Portland; she is a talented young goalkeeper with a tremendous work ethic and desire to be the best,” said Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons. “Britt brings great athletic ability and quality distribution, and I look forward to seeing her develop and compete under the guidance of Thorns FC goalkeeper coach Nadine Angerer.”
Eckerstrom, 23, started and played in three games for the Western New York Flash in 2016, posting a 0.67 goals-against average with 16 saves in 270 minutes of action. The 26th overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft out of Penn State University, Eckerstrom was the first goalkeeper selected in that year’s draft.
As a senior in 2015, Eckerstrom helped guide the Nittany Lions to a national championship, recording 15 shutouts, including a streak of eight consecutive shutouts to conclude the season. During her career at Penn State, Eckerstrom recorded a 0.80 goals-against average, posting a .804 save percentage to go along with 24 career shutouts and a record of 61-14-3.
Born: May 28, 1993
Hometown: Germantown, Md.
College: Penn State