Six Demon Deacons selected in pro soccer drafts

Five men’s soccer players and one women’s player were picked in the MLS and NWSL Drafts

Christina Denovio, Sports Editor

To say Wake Forest soccer is killing it would be an understatement. Men’s team players Calvin Harris, Michael DeShields, Justin McMaster and Andrew Pannenberg were all selected in the 2021 Major League Soccer SuperDraft. On the women’s side, Hannah Betfort was selected by the Portland Thorns FC in the National Women’s Soccer League draft.

Harris was the second overall pick and went to FC Cincinnati, and defender DeShields was picked number five by D.C. United. This draft marked the first time that two Demon Deacons were in the top-five of the MLS SuperDraft. Harris appeared in 32 games and made 25 straight starts for the Deacons. During his time at Wake Forest, Harris recorded ten goals and five assists and became the highest MLS SuperDraft selection from the university since 2016. At FC Cincinnati, Harris will be joining Demon Deacon alum Lucas Gdula, who was drafted No. 13 in 2019. He is the fourth member of the Wake Forest soccer team to be selected in the top-three of the SuperDraft.

Deshields played in 60 games during his time at Wake Forest; 49 of those appearances were starts. He is the fourth Demon Deacon to be selected by D.C. United.

McMaster started in 27 of his 58 career games for the Demon Deacons. In those 58 games, he recorded 12 goals and eight assists. He will be the second Wake soccer player to go to Minnesota FC. On the topic of being drafted, McMaster said, “I am excited to grow as a player and make my name in the league.” He also said, “Being at Wake for the past four years has molded me into a stronger player, mentally and physically. There were ups and downs at Wake, but my experiences definitely built character within me, and I couldn’t be more excited to show my capabilities in Minnesota.”

Pannenberg was picked 49th overall in the second round by Orlando City SC. Of his 32 appearances, he recorded 22 victories and 79 saves. Pannenberg also put up 13 clean sheets with 0.789 goals against, and a 0.760 save percentage. When asked what he is looking forward to in the MLS, Pannenberg responded, “The league is growing incredibly quick[ly] and the fan support and buzz is only getting better each year. I am really looking forward to competing at the next level and growing and developing on and off the field.”

“I am also really looking forward to seeing many of my former teammates as there are plenty of Wake alums scattered throughout the league,” he also explained.

“Ever since I stepped foot on campus four years ago, I have met so many great people. So many of the guys who came before me really showed me what it looks like to work hard and be a good teammate,” Pannenberg remarked. “I have learned so much about what it takes to win and how to battle through tough times and adversity.” The goalkeeper will be joining Demon Deacon Joey Dezart, who went in the second round during the 2020 draft, at Orlando.

Betfort became the sixth Demon Deacon ever selected in the NWSL draft and the ninth currently on a professional team. She was the 37th overall pick of the draft. With 65 game appearances and 59 starts, her four years at Wake Forest have been a success. In her almost 5,000 minutes on the field, she has recorded eight assists and six goals. Betfort began her freshman year as a forward, but she later moved to outside back. In 2019, she became team captain and led the team in assists. Betfort will be joining six other Demon Deacons who currently play in the NWSL. On the topic of playing in the NWSL, she explained, “I am looking forward to playing soccer at the highest level. It will be an incredible challenge and I am excited to see what I can do against some of the best players in the world.” She also said, “My time at Wake prepared me for this next step in a lot of ways. However, primarily, my coaches always demanded the most of me, pushing me to become the best player and person that I could be.”