The Chicago Red Stars added quality attacking and defending power to the team’s arsenal in Friday’s second-ever National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft.
Santa Clara defensive midfielder, Julie Johnston, was the team’s first pick—going third overall in the draft.
“I’m extremely honored to be selected in the draft, and more importantly by a team like Chicago,” Johnston said after finding out her fate. “I spoke with coach [Rory] Dames and he is exactly the type of coach I want to play for – he wants to win and he wants to develop his players.”
Johnston tallied up 31 goals and 22 assists during her time with the Broncos while new teammate, and Illinois native, Vanessa DiBernardo racked up 43 goals and 22 assists during her collegiate campaign at the University of Illinois.
“Vanessa [DiBernardo] is one of the best box-to-box players that will be in the league next year so she’ll be able to take a bit of pressure off Lori [Chalupny],” Dames said after the draft.
Picking up Johnston and DiBernardo in back-to-back first round picks, Dames feels he selected the best midfielders in the 2014 class.
“In Julie and Vanessa, we picked up the best holding midfielder and the best attacking midfielder in the draft,” Dames said. “They will form the spine of our team down the middle for years to come. With both of them having the experience of winning the U-20 World Cup, they are both proven winners at the highest level.”
In addition to selecting Johnston and DiBernardo, the Red Stars draft team—consisting of Dames, team owner Arnim Whisler, general manager Alyse LaHue, and midfielder Lori Chalupny—also selected forward Hayley Brock as the 22nd overall pick.
Brock, who began her freshman season at Penn State University before transferring to the University of Maryland, racked up 38 goals—nine of which were game-winners—during her college career.
“I actually grew up playing against Coach Dames and his club teams so it’ll be an amazing experience to play for him at the professional level,” Brock said. “I’m looking forward to my experience at Chicago.”