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NWSL draft: CU Buffs standout Civana Kuhlmann selected by Washington Spirit

BOULDER,CO-September 23:Colorado's Civana Kuhlmann(4) is on ...
Colorado’s Civana Kuhlmann was picked 37th overall and in the fourth round of the NWSL draft on Thursday night. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Civana Kuhlmann’s lone season at the University of Colorado proved to be a huge springboard into a professional soccer career.

Kuhlmann, the Buffaloes’ leading scorer this past season, was selected with the first pick of the fourth round (37th overall) in Thursday’s NWSL draft by the Washington Spirit.

Kuhlmann is the sixth CU player to get drafted since the NWSL draft began in 2013, a list that includes Taylor Kornieck, Becca Rasmussen, Erin Greening, Danica Evans and Amy Barczuk.

“We couldn’t be more excited for Civana,” CU head coach Danny Sanchez said in a release. “Washington made a great selection. When Civana arrived in Boulder you could see she had all the talent to be a professional. To play at the highest levels, you have to have a level of competitiveness and mental toughness. That really came out in her one year in Boulder. We know that she’s really going to excel in the NWSL.”

A native of Centennial, Kuhlmann spent the bulk of her career at Stanford, where she was part of the Cardinal’s national championship teams in 2017 and 2019. As a freshman in 2017, Kuhlmann was eighth in the Pac-12 Conference in points (nine goals, four assists). In her three seasons on the field at Stanford (she missed the 2019 campaign due to injury), Kuhlmann totaled 20 goals and seven assists.

Kuhlmann has said she was content beginning to prep for a pro career a year ago, but when she recovered from a series of injuries more quickly than expected, she opted to join her home state Buffaloes for her final season of eligibility. It proved to be a perfect fit.

Kuhlmann earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors after ranking second in the league with 30 points, recording 12 goals and six assists. Her 30 points tied for second in program history (also Kornieck in 2019 and Jorian Baucom in 2018), as did her 12 goals (Kornieck 2019, Baucom 2018, and Katie Griffin in 2005).

“Being in a new environment for my final year of college was such a valuable experience,” Kuhlmann said. “I took on a different role which I believe gave me valuable leadership experience. Having to navigate a different team with a different culture — every team is different and I believe that I was able to learn so much from that experience.”

Sharts signs

Kuhlmann isn’t the only CU soccer graduate ready to start a pro career.

Hannah Sharts, a two-time first team All-Pac-12 defender for the Buffs, announced on Friday she has agreed to terms with the Finnish club KuPS.

Sharts recorded nine goals and six assists while playing in 78 matches over four seasons at CU. She was a team captain each of the past three seasons.

“Playing for this club in the ‘happiest country in the world’ is a dream come true,” Sharts said in a release. “I am so grateful for this opportunity and I can’t wait for the moment when we get to show our skills to the public.”