In 2011, the Chicago Red Stars marked their first WPSL season with a near loss to the Orange County Waves in the league championship, falling 2-1 to the Southern California team. This year, as part of the 8-team WPSL Elite League, the Red Stars look to replicate last year’s success by adding strategically to a core of returning players.
“We intended for the core to be largely the same,” said Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler. “That was going to be our starting point. The core was a very important part of what we were last year.”
Returning players from 2011 include goalkeeper Jamie Forbes, defenders Jackie Santacaterina and Samantha Scofield, defender-midfielders Elise Addis (formerly Weber), Kara Kabellis, and Kecia Morway, midfielders Amanda Cinalli and Niki Sebo, attackers Vanessa DiBernardo and Vanessa Laxgang, and forwards Shayla Mutz and Michele Weissenhofer.
Among the new players for 2012, many have professional playing experience. Ella Masar, Mary Therese McDonnell, Julianne Sitch, and Michelle Wenino all come to the field having played for the Red Stars in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), while Jen Buczkowski, Lori Chalupny, Lauren Fowlkes, and Alyssa Mautz also have significant professional playing experience.
This year’s roster is rounded out by the addition of five players from the open tryout held the weekend of March 31, as well as several collegiate athletes. Whisler anticipates a strong showing for the team in 2012.
“We certainly intend to be competitive in every match,” Whisler says. “You never know until the games start, but we think we’re in a good position to contend for the playoffs.”
Red Stars fans can expect two changes from 2011. Due to field resurfacing at Benedictine University, site of last year’s home games, the team will play 2012 home games at four venues throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. Game locations for 2012 include Concordia University, North Central College, Northwestern University, and a final home game at Benedictine University on July 14th. Although having multiple venues is not ideal, the Red Stars see this challenge as an opportunity to connect with fans across Chicagoland.
“What we really wanted to do was get close to our fan base,” Whisler said. “So we’re going to give everyone a chance to be near their home, and be more likely to get there. We’re going to maximize that experience for them.”
Secondly, the Red Stars plan to provide free webcasts of a selection of home games. Ollin Omnimedia will webcast 5 out of 7 2012 home games through the Red Stars’ website, www.ChicagoRedStars.com. All but the two home games at Concordia University will be webcast and archived for fans.
“It’s a service to our fans,” Whisler said. “We believe strongly that you can’t be a fan if you don’t know the team. And the more you watch, the more you get attached to the players and want to be a part of it.”
The Red Stars open the 2012 season with a 3 p.m. CT home match against regional rival FC Indiana on Sunday at Concordia University.
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