When the Washington Spirit returns to the field this spring, local fans may spot a familiar face at forward—Falls Church native Anna Heilferty. After graduating from Boston University this winter, Heilferty was selected 19th overall by the Spirit in the 2021 National Women’s Soccer League Draft.
In 2017, Heilferty graduated from Justice High School and earned the title of women’s soccer’s player of the year by the Washington Post. She then headed north to Boston, where she proved to be a dominant force for the Terriers at midfield and forward. She played in 62 games in her three seasons for BU, scoring 13 goals and making 10 assists.
When Covid-19 hit, closing campuses and canceling games, Heilferty found herself living at home in Falls Church. So, she started working out with a local soccer team—the Spirit. “I was trying to find a good training opportunity,” says Heilferty. “I previously knew Tom Torres, who worked as the assistant coach for the Spirit, so I reached out to him just [to see] if there were any training opportunities here with Spirit, because that, obviously, would be the most ideal. It kind of went from there.”
By training with the Spirit prior to the draft, Heilferty says she got insight into the league that is typically not accessible to collegiate players. “It was great for my development,” she says. “Just to see what it’s like to be a professional soccer player.”
Heilferty grew up rooting for the Spirit out at their field in Germantown. One of her favorite players during her high school years was midfielder Andi Sullivan—who’s now her fellow Virginia native on the squad.
The Spirit will kick off its 2021 season with the Challenge Cup on April 9. Heilferty says she is excited to experience the competition set-up of the Cup, which is a different format than the regular reason. “I’m excited to just experience it all and just be in my hometown playing for my hometown team,” she says. “[The DMV] is an amazing place to grow up. I loved it. I love the diversity that it has and the people that I grew up with.”
One of the best parts about returning to her hometown? The proximity to her favorite restaurant—Crystal Thai in Arlington.