After a stellar youth career and a record-setting senior season at the University of Wisconsin, club alum Cara Walls was drafted in the third round of the NWSL draft by the Chicago Red Stars. Walls is the first professional player drafted from the club.
The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) is the top women's professional league in the world, and home to the top national team players from the US, Canada, Mexico and countries all over the world. The Chicago Red Stars finished 5th in the NWSL in 2014, losing out on a play-off spot on a tie-breaker on the final day of the regular season. The Red Stars are coached by a trio of Eclipse coaches - head coach Rory Dames is also the Eclipse Director of Coaching, assistant coach Christian Lavers is the Director for FC WI Eclipse, and assistant coach Trae Manny is the Goalkeeper Director for Eclipse Select.
Walls was selected as the 23rd player overall in the draft, and will look to be a forward capable of both stretching defenses behind and playing in between the lines. “When I heard I was selected, I was just extremely excited and thankful, because I’ve played with and against so many awesome players in college and know how many of them also want this opportunity,” said Walls. “I’ve long dreamed of becoming a professional and can’t believe it’s actually happening. My goal is to give it my all in training and prove that I can make an impact when I’m entered into a game.”
Walls was the leading goal-scorer in the 2011 US Youth Soccer National Championships, helping to lead her team to the first (and only) youth national championship in Wisconsin history (boys or girls). Walls also helped lead the FC WI Eclipse U23 team to the U23 ECNL National Championship game in 2013, where they lost in the final to an Eclipse Select team featuring current Red Star Vanessa DiBernardo, and 2015 NWSL #1 draft pick and UVA alum Morgan Brian. In her senior season at Wisconsin in 2014, Walls was named First Team All-Big Ten and to the All-Big Ten Tournament team.
"We are all really happy for Cara, and the opportunity she has earned," said Christian Lavers. "Having worked with Cara as a youth player and through her college years in the summer, it is a great feeling to be able to see her take the next step in her career. It is even more special to have the opportunity to coach her now as a professional. Her journey shows that, for Wisconsin players with ambition and work rate, anything is possible."
Walls recently provided her thoughts on her youth and collegiate career for FC Wisconsin Eclipse players - click here for the December interview.