Duke women’s soccer star Sophie Jones declares for NWSL draft

Sophie Jones leaves Duke as one of the most highly decorated players in program history.
Sophie Jones leaves Duke as one of the most highly decorated players in program history.

And just like that, all of Duke’s most veteran players are gone.

Blue Devil midfielder Sophie Jones declared for the NWSL draft Saturday, joining graduate students Delaney Graham and Mackenzie Pluck. Jones announced her decision in a heartfelt Instagram post Monday. Though her career stats at Duke do not jump off the page, she has been one of the best players in the country over the past four years and joins the ranks of all-time Blue Devil greats.

Jones came to Durham as a late riser in the recruiting class of 2019, shooting up the rankings all the way to No. 2 shortly before they were finalized. Hailing from Menlo Park, Calif., Jones grew up mere minutes from Stanford’s campus, going to Cardinal women’s soccer games with her mother and grandmother. But her official visit to Duke sold the deal for Jones.

Jones lived up to her billing from the moment she stepped on the pitch: She was an opening-day starter as a freshman and generated a formidable midfield duo with current Chicago Red Stars forward Ella Stevens. That freshman season was cut short due to a torn right ACL, an injury that effectively kneecapped the Blue Devils’ offense for the remainder of 2019. Still, her 10 games played were impressive enough to land her on the ACC All-Freshman Team.

After recovering from her knee injury in 2020, Jones never missed another game. She notched two assists to open her sophomore campaign, and ended that year with Third Team All-America and First Team All-ACC honors. She has since been a mainstay in the top 20 of TopDrawerSoccer’s nationwide player rankings and ends her Blue Devil career as the fourth player in program history with multiple All-American selections and the 13th to be named All-ACC three times.

Jones played a bit as a deep-lying playmaker her freshman year but has mostly been a box-to-box midfielder ever since, occasionally moving down to holding midfielder depending on the formation. Her elite passing, fundamentals and feel for the sport should earn her a good opportunity in the NWSL, though her lack of top-tier speed raises questions about her defensive ceiling and will likely limit her to the six at the professional level. She is projected as a mid-first-round pick, making her a possible target for the Red Stars, Houston Dash or North Carolina Courage.


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