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Seattle Reign sign defender Kristen McNabb

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The club now has one remaining roster spot to fill.

On the eve of the club’s first preseason match of the year, Seattle Reign FC announced the signing of defender Kristen McNabb, another 2017 college draft pick. The signing leaves a number of strong players — including Veronica Perez, Maddie Bauer, and Paige Nielsen — fighting for the final remaining spot on the 20-person Reign FC roster.

McNabb was selected by Reign FC in the fourth round of the 2017 NWSL College Draft. A University of Virginia alum, she scored 13 goals and tallied three assists during her collegiate career. McNabb played alongside Portland Thorns defender Emily Sonnett for three years with the Cavaliers — helping lead the team to the NCAA tournament all four years she played, including a National Championship appearance in 2014.

Virginia focuses on a possession style of play, and McNabb fit in well with their system. During her senior season, McNabb anchored a backline that allowed just 18 goals and recorded 11 shutouts. A naturally left-footed player, the defender could provide depth at both centerback and left back.

“I think Kristen has probably been the nicest surprise of preseason camp,” said Seattle Reign FC head coach and general manager Laura Harvey. “I think she’s exceeded her own expectations and I’ve been really happy with her performances. Every single day she’s getting better.”

In March, McNabb was called up to the U-23 Women’s National Team for a tournament against Japan, England, and Norway in La Manga, Spain. Reign FC’s own Laura Harvey coached the U-23 team to a 2-1-0 record in the tournament, and McNabb went 90 minutes in a 1-0 U.S. win over Norway.

Now an official member of the Reign FC squad for 2017, McNabb will join her teammates on Tuesday, April 4 for a preseason match against UCLA. To get experience playing on the road before the NWSL regular season kicks off, the club opted to travel to California for this preseason match.

After three weeks of training camp, this will be the first opportunity for players to experience minutes in a game environment.

“In preseason games, you’re trying to put into practice some of the things we’ve been working on in training and see where you’re at,” said Harvey. “Obviously you want to play well as a team and do the things we’ve been working on, but it’s mainly about getting people onto the field and making sure they’re physically in the right place heading into the season.”

Reign FC then returns home for a game against the University of Washington on Saturday, April 8. Just one week later, the regular season opens at Memorial Stadium against Sky Blue FC.

After losing a number of key players in the offseason, this year’s Reign FC squad will look a lot different. But with new signings like McNabb and Katie Johnson, fans have plenty of reasons to be excited.