The Chicago Red Stars today announced the signing of all three of the team’s draft picks from the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Draft. Penelope Hocking (Penn State, 7th overall) and Ally Schlegel (Penn State, 23rd overall) were both signed to three-year contracts with a fourth-year option and Sophie Jones (Duke, 43rd overall) was signed to a two-year contract.
“We’re really excited about the future for these three talented young players. They have fit in perfectly from day one,” said Red Stars Head Coach, Chris Petrucelli. “The draft at times can be a bit of a guessing game. It looks like we guessed correctly with this group. All three will contribute immediately and I expect will have long careers in the league.”
“I’m so excited for this next chapter of my career with the Red Stars! This experience has been so enjoyable yet challenging and I can’t wait to see all that we accomplish in the upcoming season with this amazing group,” said Hocking.
Forward Penelope Hocking joins the Red Stars after a dynamic collegiate career at both USC and Penn State University. While at Penn State, Hocking recorded 23 match appearances, with 22 starts, seven goals and eleven assists. The California native only spent one year at Penn State, but her performance earned her Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week (9/25), Second Team All-Big Ten and First Team All-North Region Honors. Hocking’s honors at Penn State join the list of honors the forward earned while at USC. Topping the list of honors earned by Hocking is the record she holds for most goals scored in program history. Hocking’s 54 goals broke the school record of 48 career goals, which stood for almost 21 years and is the 12th most in PAC-12 history. Hocking has shown some of her scoring prowess this preseason as the rookie scored goals against Racing Louisville FC and New Jersey/New York Gotham FC in two of the club’s scrimmage matches.
“I am honored and excited by the opportunity to play for the Red Stars,” said Jones. “It has always been my dream to play professional soccer and I can’t thank the Red Stars enough for turning that dream into a reality. I am looking forward to challenging myself against the best players in the world every day in practice and in games in this incredible league. I am so lucky to be surrounded by such amazing coaches and teammates and staff as a part of this amazing organization. I can’t wait for what is to come and hope that we can make the city of Chicago proud!”
Box-to-box midfielder, Sophie Jones, played and started in 75 matches for Duke University, ranking her fifth all time in starts for the Blue Devils. The California native scored five goals and recorded eight assists while at Duke. Jones’ honors during her collegiate career include 2022 United Soccer Coaches Second-Team All-America, 2022 TopDrawerSoccer Best XI First Team selection, 2021 All-ACC Second Team, 2020 All-ACC First Team, among many others. Jones’ first year at Duke was cut short due to an injury, but her performance in the 10 games she appeared in was enough to earn the freshman ACC All-Freshman Team. This preseason with the Red Stars, Jones has jumped into the midfield to exhibit the skill and tirelessness that makes Jones one of the most promising midfielders selected in the 2023 draft.
“I could not be more grateful and excited to officially be a Chicago Red Star,” said Ally Schlegel. “I have already learned so much from all of the incredible players and staff around me, and I cannot wait to continue to grow in this environment. I’m pumped to get this season started and I know that this team has a lot in store this year!”
Also from Penn State University, Ally Schlegel joins Hocking and fellow Penn State alum, Alyssa Naeher on the Red Stars this season. Playing in every preseason match for the club this season, Schlegel has put her abilities on display using her endurance and high energy to pressure defenders into making mistakes and creating opportunities for her teammates. While at Penn State Schlegel played in 85 matches, started in 83, scored 47 goals and recorded 20 assists. During her collegiate career, the Colorado native earned a number of honors including 2022 First Team All-Big Ten, 2022 Big Ten Women’s Soccer All-Tournament Team and Offensive Player of the Tournament, 2021 All-Big Ten Second Team and was named the team captain in 2021.
All three rookies are no strangers to the Chicago Red Stars. Hocking, Jones and Schlegel were all on the United States Under-23 Youth National team that played against the Red Stars in the March 2022 preseason tournament in Portland. The teams faced off in the first match of the tournament and ended with a 0-0 draw.
Hocking, Jones and Schlegel become the latest signing for the Red Stars as the team finalizes its roster ahead of the start of the 2023 NWSL season. The Red Stars kick off the season March 25 in San Diego in an opening night match against the Wave before returning to SeatGeek Stadium April 1 for the home opener against the Houston Dash. Tickets for the home opener are still available and can be purchased at www.chicagoredstars.com/tickets.