Where are they now? Three local players get their first taste of NWSL action with Red Star players on World Cup duty

Former Northwestern defenders Hannah Davison and Kayla Sharples, in addition, to Loyola University Chicago forward Jenna Szczesny were added to the roster with four Chicago Red Stars off on National Team duty. (Photo courtesy of the Chicago Red Stars)

By Andrew Hattersley

With departure comes opportunity.

That was the case for a trio of local players after four Chicago Red Stars were named U.S Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis’ 23-player roster to represent the United States in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. This opened the door for a three former college players from Northwestern and Loyola University Chicago to get their first taste of NWSL action after being drafted this past year.

Former Northwestern standout Hannah Davison and Kayla Sharples were both offered supplemental player contracts. This comes as part of a new rule for the 2019 season that allowed teams to sign up to four additional players at the league minimum that would not count against the salary cap. Former Stanford goalkeeper Alison Jahansouz was also signed as a supplemental player.

Davison was chosen with the 33rd pick in the 2019 NWSL College Draft after starting every game during her senior season and being a key player for Northwestern during her entire time on campus. A solid defender, she helped the Wildcats record eight shutouts during her final year in Evanston, Ill. and helped the Wildcats record the lowest goals against average in the nation. Northwestern allowed a mere .29 goals per game and led the nation in shutouts (17) as a sophomore.

Drafted seven spots ahead of her as the 26th overall pick in the draft, Sharples was another anchor on that Wildcat backline as she was named an All-Big Ten First Team player in three consecutive seasons. She played every minute of the 2017 and 2018 seasons, helping the team record 11 shutouts in 2017 and another eight in 2018.

Among those also called up was former Loyola forward Jenna Szczesny on a National Team Player Replacement contract, meaning her salary will also not be charged to the team’s salary cap, but she must be released when the players return from national team duty and they are back to full strength.

Not long after Davison and Sharples heard their name called, Szczesny was also selected 35th overall by the Red Stars, becoming the first player in Loyola program history to be drafted into the NWSL. After being selected as a four-time All-Missouri Valley Conference honoree, the senior forward took home Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year honors in her senior season after leading the team with 11 goals and seven assists.

Only Jahansouz and Sharples were active for the Red Stars matchup with this Utah Royals FC on Friday, May 3.

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