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Three Wildcat seniors drafted to the NWSL

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Northwestern’s star center back duo will remain together at the next level, and Marisa Viggiano found a home in Orlando.

They led the program to its best four year stretch ever. Now Marisa Viggiano, Hannah Davison, and Kayla Sharples will each take their talents to the next level.

In Thursday’s National Women’s Soccer League draft, Sharples (in the third round) and Davison (in the fourth) went to their hometown Chicago Red Stars, while Viggiano, also picked in the fourth round, joined the Orlando Pride. Northwestern’s three tied for the most players selected.

Davison and Sharples, who were teammates in club soccer throughout high school and started together on four straight tournament teams at center back, will continue as teammates at the professional level. The pair, hailing from Geneva and Naperville, Illinois respectively, are certainly pleased to join their hometown Red Stars.

Meanwhile, Viggiano, the creative center midfielder who finished her career with the second-most assists in Northwestern history, will head down to Orlando. The Pride, who finished third-to-last in 2018 (the Red Stars were fourth of the nine NWSL teams, by contrast), might need Viggiano’s help, and her skill set should translate pretty quickly.

Sharples was the most highly-touted of the three prospects, but each played valuable roles in Northwestern’s impressive defense the last four years. In their careers, the Wildcats recorded a whopping 47 shutouts, and racked up four of the top five shutout streaks in program history.

The trio achieved impressive individual accolades in their time at Northwestern as well. Each were first team all regional scholar athletes this year and achieved multiple Academic All-Big 10 honors. On the pitch, Viggiano was recognized as first team All-Big Ten in each of her final two years. Sharples, meanwhile, is a two-time third team All-American, and Davison achieved All-Big Ten and All-Region honors her last two years.

As Sharples and Davison look to continue their years-long partnership, and Viggiano heads off in a new direction, their careers show just how far Wildcat soccer has come. The three are the first players from Northwestern to ever make the NWSL, and after bringing the Wildcats a Big Ten Championship in 2016 and an unprecedented run of consistent success under head coach Michael Moynihan, the program looks set to consistently compete.

The 2019 NWSL season will begin in late March. And with the FIFA Women’s World Cup occurring this summer, these former Wildcats should get the chance to see some early action. Don’t miss them!