Portland Thorns FC was able to get another of their top draft targets with the 12th overall pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft. Samantha ‘Sam’ Coffey’s name was called by NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird as Portland selected the New York native with the second pick in the second round.
Coffey is a senior attacking midfielder out of Penn State who has wreaked havoc on defenses throughout her career. She played her club soccer for Match-fit Academy and New York Soccer Club. Her performances for New York SC earned her a spot on TopDrawerSoccer’s Best XI. Coffey also played for Masters School and scored 100 goals in her high school career.
Coffey started her college soccer career at Boston College, where she amassed 17 goals and 24 assists in 40 matches (40 starts). She was named a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist, ACC Midfielder of the Year, and All-ACC First Team in her sophomore season. That season she was one of two players in major conferences to have double digit goals and assists. The other player was Ashley Sanchez (UCLA), who starred for the Washington Spirit in 2020. The following season Coffey was no longer wearing the maroon and gold of Boston College. Coffey transferred to Penn State to continue her college career.
“I think I definitely bring some unique experience with having both of those leagues [ACC and Big Ten] kind of in my arsenal,” said Coffey in the 2021 NWSL virtual mixed zone. “They’re so wildly different, Like, I can’t even describe how different they are. But I feel really honored to have played in both and I think, you know, the technicality of the ACC versus more of the physicality of the Big Ten … has prepared me completely for this moment ... I couldn’t be happier to have had both of those experiences in those leagues to get me to where I am right now.”
She appeared in all 25 matches (24 starts) for the Nittany Lions and registered 11 goals and ten assists. Both tallies were tied for second-most in the Big Ten. Coffey helped lead her team to a Big Ten Championship and was named 1st-Team All-Big Ten and 1st-Team All-North Region.
Coffey is a dynamic midfielder who is able to cover a lot of ground. She drives at defenses with her head up, surveying the defense and identifying its weak points so she can quickly unleash a line-splitting pass or fire a shot on goal.
“[She’s] someone on the dribble who can twist and turn,” Thorns head coach Mark Parsons said. “We’ve lacked some of that over the last couple of years. Options … different options that can do it … Bringing in Sam, who’s going to have an immediate impact and can learn a lot from the talent around her, is exciting … This is someone who can be a big difference-maker in the final third.”
Portland fans will have to wait a little longer than normal to see Coffey don the Thorns’ red and black, as she plans to represent Penn State one last time in the 2021 Spring season. Coffey hopes to make a deep run in the tournament just like Thorns teammate Rocky Rodriguez did in 2015.
“Obviously Rocky’s legacy at Penn State and in college soccer and in the NWSL is just incredible,” said Coffey. “I think she did reach out to me, I haven’t been able to get back to her yet. But obviously, that’s something that I know my coaches are super stoked about. And it’s just an honor to play alongside her. She’s someone that has inspired me from the minute I got here to Penn State, and I just can’t wait to be her teammate.”
Both Rodriguez and Coffey are sure to share the pitch at Providence Park in the near future, but hopefully Coffey has had a chance to get back to Rodriguez. And hopefully Rodriguez will have even more to look forward to while watching her alma mater play in the 2021 season, because she will not just be watching the Nittany Lions; she will also be watching a fellow Thorns midfielder.