CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UI Release) - Top Drawer Soccer (TDS) recently announced their top-100 upperclassmen women's players for the 2012 season and University of Illinois standout Vanessa DiBernardo came in at the No. 10 spot. The junior has now garnered a TDS preseason honor for the third consecutive year. DiBernardo secured a top spot amongst a talented pool of freshmen in 2010, was ranked 72nd last year and then climbed 62 spots this season.
The talented Naperville native has been nationally recognized often this preseason after coming off of a career year in 2011. DiBernardo was announced as one of 38 women on the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, picked as an All-American by Soccer America, and named a Big Ten Conference player to watch. TDS also recently released their top-20 preseason Big Ten players as DiBernardo joined fellow teammate and senior goalkeeper Steph Panozzo on the list. Currently, DiBernardo is lending her skills, along with Illinois head coach Janet Rayfield, to the U-20 U.S. Women's National Team in the World Cup in Japan.
Twelve other Big Ten women's soccer players made TDS's top-100 list, up two from last year. Joining DiBernardo was Penn State's Christine Nairn, Maya Hayes and Taylor Schram, Michigan State's Olivia Stander and Annie Steinlage, Minnesota's Taylor Uhl and Cat Parkhill, Ohio State's Danica Wu, Michigan's Nkem Ezurike, Iowa's Chloe Lacasse and Nebraska's Jordan Jackson. DiBernardo came in second in the Big Ten, being ranked behind No. 2 Christine Nairn.
DiBernardo was the primary catalyst in the Illini offense last year, leading the squad with 39 points on 17 goals and five assists. Her season total points and goals were both ranked fourth in the Big Ten and were also both just one tally shy of tying Illinois season records. In addition, her 66 career points already rank fifth in Illini soccer history. Her eight game-winning goals from a season ago stands as the best performance to date at Illinois. Most notably was DiBernardo's game-winning goal in overtime against Penn State, to hand the Orange and Blue their second Big Ten Tournament Title under Coach Rayfield.
Top Drawer Soccer will update all of their player ranking lists at midseason and again at postseason based on the season's developments.