DiBernardo Drafted Fourth by Chicago Red Stars
Jan. 17, 2014
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - University of Illinois midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo was drafted by the Chicago Red Stars with the No. 4 overall pick in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft on Friday. DiBernardo becomes the highest drafted player in school history and the first Illini taken in the second year of the NWSL draft. The Naperville, Ill., native finished her career in 2013 as one of the most decorated Illinois soccer players in school history.
"I'm excited and honored to be drafted by the Chicago Red Stars, especially because it's my hometown," DiBernardo said. "It means a lot to play for Chicago and I'm looking forward to being able to stay close to home. I appreciate everything coach Rayfield and all the coaches at Illinois did for me to prepare me for this moment. I also want to thank my teammates for supporting me during my great four years as an Illini."
DiBernardo is the third Illini to be drafted by the Chicago Red Stars, who previously selected two former Illini in the Women's Professional (WPS) draft. Former Illini forward Ella Masar was the first player in program history to be drafted when she was selected by the Red Stars with the ninth overall pick in 2008. Other former Illini taken in the WPS Draft include Mary Therese McDonnell (53rd, Sky Blue FC) and Christen Karniski (64th pick, Washington Freedom) in 2009 and Jackie Santacaterina (60th pick, Chicago Red Stars) in 2010.
"I am so proud of Vanessa and our program," head coach Janet Rayfield said. "Every player is created and forged from their own dedication and from the environment in which they develop. Vanessa is a class act and a tremendous player who will have a long, successful career and represent us well. Congrats to her and her teammates that helped her long the way."
DiBernardo is a two-time All-American, collecting NSCAA second-team honors in 2011 and third-team accolades in 2012, and was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List three times. She excelled immediately on the field as an Illini, beginning her career as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2010. She followed up a stellar rookie season by earning Big Ten Midfielder of the Year honors in 2011 while leading the Illini to its second-ever Big Ten Tournament title.
A three-time first-team All-Big Ten selection, DiBernardo wrapped up her career third in school history with 43 goals after leading the Illini in goals during each of her first three years, including a career-high 17 goals as a sophomore. In her final season, she ranked second on the Illini with seven goals while helping Illinois reach the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament, the team's best finish in her four-year career. She also tallied a career-high seven assists in 2013, giving her the most career assists (22) in school history, and finished tied for the most career shots by an Illini with 325.
DiBernardo also excelled in the classroom at Illinois, capping off her career as a second-team CoSIDA Academic All-American and a two-time NSCAA Scholar All-American. A recreation, sport and tourism major with a sport management concentration, DiBernardo boasted a 3.70 GPA and was recognized with several other academic awards, including a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar.