Part 1: Hometown veterans playing at Toyota Park
Chicago, Ill. – As the Chicago Red Stars get ready for the 2016 season, it’s time to celebrate all of the Red Stars players who hail from around Chicagoland.
In the first part of this two-part story, we take a look at the veteran players who will take the field for the Chicago Red Stars. These three players have been living their dreams playing professional soccer for several years. As Chicago Red Stars they currently play in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), taking on the best players in the world in front of their hometown crowd at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL.
Meet Michele Dalton, Vanessa DiBernardo and Casey Short…they are truly your Chicago (born and raised) Red Stars veterans!
A native of Mount Prospect, Illinois, Dalton spent a majority of her youth career at local hometown club Mount Prospect Green and White before spending the last two years of her club days with Eclipse Select.
After an outstanding career at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dalton had planned on continuing her career in the WPS, but the league folded that year and plans changed. The two following years Dalton suited up professionally overseas in Iceland and Sweden, playing for Kvarnsvedens (Sweden) and UMF Selfoss (Iceland).
In 2015, Dalton relished the opportunity to return home to continue her professional career. She enters her second-year with the Red Stars after having a phenomenal first-year in the NWSL, having led the league in goals-against average, giving up just .917 goals per game. She definitely made her first year playing in front of her hometown fans one to remember, both for herself and for the Red Stars, and is looking forward to her second!
“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.”
One of the most veteran Red Stars is none other than Naperville’s very own Vanessa DiBernardo. A decorated youth player, DiBernardo eventually won the prestigious 2010 Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year award while attending Waubonsie High School while helping to lead them to three IHSA state titles in her four years.
DiBernardo would stick close to home and continue her collegiate career at University of Illinois, where she would ultimately become a legacy in the program, earning multiple All-American and Big Ten awards.
Her play in college would see her land in Chicago, where she was chosen fourth-overall in the 2014 NWSL College Draft. Since joining the Red Stars, DiBernardo has seen in action in every single NWSL game and established herself as one of the top central midfielders in the league. She led the team in minutes played in 2015 and over the course of her two years, she has tallied 3 goals and 8 assists.
No one has worked harder to get back to her hometown than Casey Short. Like DiBernardo, she is a native of Naperville, who was originally drafted fifth-overall in the 2013 NWSL Draft out of Florida State. Unfortunately, playing in the NWSL would have to wait due to injury prior to the start of the 2013 season.
After recovering from the injury, Short played two seasons in Norway, earning ‘Best 11’ honors at the Norwegian Toppserien 2015 NISO Awards. With two years professional experience under her cleats, she now returns home to compete as a Chicago Red Stars against the best women’s soccer players in the world within the NWSL.
“The moment I signed, I was so excited,” she recalled. “It’s a dream come true to have things come full circle and be playing minutes from my house, from where I grew up, in front of my family and friends.”
These three Chicagoland players are ready to kick-off the 2016 NWSL season with the Red Stars and cannot wait to do it for the you; those that have been neighbors, friends, family and are now their fans. Come out to Toyota Park and watch these local professionals compete with and against the very best women’s soccer players in the world. You can purchase your tickets here or simply call 773-697-8699.
Stay tuned for part two of this story when we’ll introduce you to several more local players recently drafted by the Chicago Red Stars in the 2016 NWSL College Draft.