After the conclusion of their successful careers at Georgetown University, three soccer players were drafted to play professionally, including senior defender Dylan Nealis and senior forward Achara, two starters on the national champion men’s soccer team, as well as senior defender Meaghan Nally, a mainstay on the defensive line for women’s soccer for the past three seasons.
On Thursday, Jan. 9, Nealis was drafted third overall in the Major League Soccer Superdraft by Inter Miami FC. Nealis’ teammate Achara followed soon after, selected 25th overall by Toronto FC in the first round. Additionally, Nally was selected by the Portland Thorns FC with the 25th-overall pick in the National Women’s Soccer League Draft on Jan. 16.
Both Nealis and Achara provided senior leadership throughout the 2019 season as they helped lead the Hoyas to their first national championship in program history. In their four-year careers, the Hoyas earned three NCAA Tournament berths. With Achara’s and Nealis’ selections, Head Coach Brian Wiese has now coached 20 players drafted to the MLS in his 14-year tenure at Georgetown.
Nealis, a perennial fixture in the Hoyas’ starting eleven since his freshman year, started 76 games throughout his four-year college career. Nealis started all 24 games for the Hoyas in 2019 and finished the year with four goals and five assists while still anchoring the Hoyas’ backline for 13 shutouts.
For both his attacking and defending prowess, Nealis was named as a finalist for the 2019 MAC Hermann Trophy finalist, the award that recognizes both the top men’s and women’s soccer player in the nation. Nealis was also named as a first team All-American by the United Soccer Coaches and was selected to the First Team All-East Region.
A two-year captain for the Blue and Gray, Nealis is the reigning two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year. He is the fourth Hoya in program history to be a top-five draft pick. As the youngest of four brothers who all played Division I soccer on the collegiate stage, Nealis joins brothers Jimmy Nealis (COL ’13, GRD ’17), Connor Nealis and Sean Nealis, who were all MLS draft picks following their collegiate careers. Dylan Nealis graduated from the McDonough School of Business in December with a degree in management.
Achara struggled with injuries throughout the 2019 season and started 11 games for the Hoyas. He consistently caused problems for opposing defenses with his pace and skill going forward and was selected as a Second Team All-Big East Honoree.
Achara finished the 2019 season with six goals and five assists and provided a notable spark for the Hoyas’ attack after returning from injury. Throughout his four-year career, Achara totaled 21 goals and seven assists in 55 games played. He was also named as a First Team All-Big East Honoree in 2018 after totaling seven goals and one assist as a junior. Achara graduated from Georgetown College in December with a degree in psychology.
Nally, a stalwart for the Hoyas defense, started 88 games in her college career. Over her four years on the Hilltop, Nally was a part of 59 shutouts while only allowing 52 goals. Her defensive effort helped lead the Hoyas to three Big East Championships in her four-year career and four NCAA tournament appearances.
Throughout her college career, Nally’s effort on the defensive end of the field has helped set several program records. In 2017, Nally was instrumental in setting the program record for most shutouts in a season at 17 and for least goals allowed at seven. In 2018, she was instrumental in setting the program record with 14 consecutive wins and 21 overall wins on the season, including a run to the College Cup in the NCAA tournament.
Nally appeared on the 2019 MAC Hermann Award Watch list and is the two-time reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year. She was also named as a 2019 United Soccer Coaches Second Team Scholar All-American and has been named as a First Team All Regional Selection twice throughout her college career. In December, Nally graduated from the McDonough School of Business with a degree in marketing and is the sixth Hoya to be drafted to the NWSL during Head Coach Dave Nolan’s reign on the Hilltop. Nally joins former teammate Kyra Carusa (GRD ’19), who was drafted to Sky Blue FC last January, and becomes the eighth Hoya to appear in the NWSL, which has existed since 2013.
Achara, Nealis and Nally are all products of a soccer program that has two trips to the College Cup, six Big East Tournament championships, three Big East Regular Season titles and a national championship in the past four years. The draft selections point to a soccer program on the rise that will continue to attract and produce players who continue their careers on the professional level.