Wisconsin alumni complete 20-player roster for 2015 NWSL season

Chicago, Illinois – The Red Stars announced today they have signed goalkeeper Michele Dalton and forward Cara Walls to the club’s 20-player roster for the 2015 NWSL campaign. The duo earned spots through their strong play over the course of preseason, which saw Chicago win all five of its games and outscore opponents 14-0. Dalton and Walls will likely see significant minutes when several Chicago stars depart to compete with their respective countries in this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“I’ve always wanted to play in the NWSL and it has been a matter of getting an opportunity and whether I’d be prepared for it,” said Illinois native Dalton, who emerged from the open tryouts in February. “I feel very fortunate, given that it’s a World Cup year, which will likely allow me to get on the field. That’s important because I cherish the chance to grow and improve.

“As you get older, there’s more pressure to perform and it’s easy to get caught up in that. While I pride myself in working very hard, I also want to remember to have some fun and realize very few people get to play professionally in their hometown, in front of their family and friends.”

Dalton was the University of Wisconsin starter from 2009 to 2011, posting a 28-16-13 record and earning Big Ten Conference Goalkeeper of the Year honors as a senior. The 26-year-old ranks fifth in program history with 24 shutouts and sixth with a 0.879 career goals-against average.

With WPS folding in 2012, Dalton spent that season suiting up for WPSL-Elite outfit Philadelphia Fever, followed by two years abroad. In 2013, she laced up for Iceland’s UMF Selfoss, posting five shutouts in 17 appearances and helping the side finish sixth in the country’s ten-team top flight. Then, the netminder moved on to Kvarnsvedens IK of the Swedish second division for the 2014 campaign, her seven shutouts and 1.19 goals-against average contributing to a strong fifth-place finish among 14 squads.

“We’re very fortunate to have a player of Michele’s caliber and experience,” said Goalkeeper Coach Trae Manny. “Her time abroad has enhanced her ability to lead teams, which will be huge for us down the stretch. She will an excellent replacement when (regular starter) Karina (LeBlanc) is away on international duty with Canada.”

Forward Walls was Chicago’s 23rd overall pick in the third round of the 2015 NWSL College Draft. The former Wisconsin captain finished her Badgers career as the second-leading goal-scorer all-time with 42 and holding the school record for multi-goal games with ten. Walls is the first Wisconsin player ever to have been drafted into the NWSL.

“It feels good to have made the final roster,” said the 21-year-old. “There weren’t a lot of spots, so I’m glad preseason went the way it did and that I was able to earn one of them. From here, I think there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. It’s the goal of the team to win the league, and if we’re going to do that, players like myself are really going to need to step up when the World Cup players are gone. So I think that being on the roster is a great opportunity and I’m really excited for the season to start.”

Chicago Head Coach Rory Dames is full of praise for his first-year player.

“In Cara, we are adding a legitimate target striker to our front line,” he said. “We expect her to be a physical presence for our other forwards to combine with. Cara’s two goals in preseason show what she is capable of. If she can replicate that against professional players, she will be a very valuable piece for us.”

The Chicago Red Stars kick off their 2015 NWSL season this coming Saturday, April 18, with their massive home opener against Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe and current Shield holders Seattle Reign FC. Single-game and season tickets may be purchased by clicking here or by calling 773-698-6001.

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