Everyone in women’s soccer knew it was going to happen, but when it did, Emily Sonnett said it felt “surreal.”

Sonnett called it “amazing” to see and hear herself be the No. 1 pick in the National Women’s Soccer League college draft Friday morning.

She's now a member of the Portland Thorns, who had their eyes on her for some time.

A recent add to the U.S. women’s national soccer team and a star defender/midfielder from the University of Portland, Sonnett said she is “super excited” to be a Thorn.

“Great organization, great team, great coach,” she said.

The coach, Mark Parsons, is new to Portland, as well. But in his previous job, as head coach of the NWSL Washington Spirit, he got to follow Sonnett closely.

“I’ve had conversations with Mark probably since the middle of my college season,” Sonnett said. “He’s seen me play quite frequently in the past four years.”

Sonnett, 22, a native of Marietta, Ga., has never been to Portland.

“I’ve only heard good things,” she said. “What I’m most excited about is playing in front of a big group of people, I’ve heard they’re the best fans in the league.”

She says her strengths as a player are “my presence, communication on the field, being able to organize on the attack, on defense.”

And, “I like to think I’m a smart player.”

She says she thinks the keys to having success as an NWSL rookie will be “sticking to what you know, but also learning from everyone else.”

Getting some experience with Thorns teammates Tobin Heath and Meghan Klingenberg in the national team environment will help her transition to a higher, pro level, she said.

“Getting a taste of what kind of player and caliber they have was really good for me,” she said.

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