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Celia Gaynor selected by Chicago Red Stars in NWSL 2024 draft

January 13, 2024
<p>Photo from Michigan State University Women's Soccer</p>

Photo from Michigan State University Women's Soccer

After playing a key role in the Spartan’s impressive season, the Chicago Red Stars selected graduate defender Celia Gaynor in the fourth round of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) draft Friday night. Gaynor played a crucial role in the Spartan's second consecutive Big Ten Title and the program's first-ever appearance in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. 

Gaynor was the third player selected in the fourth round and was the 45th overall pick in the draft. With Gaynor, the Spartans have now seen alumni drafted in each of the last three NWSL drafts, an impressive streak that started, following the arrival of head coach Jeff Hosler, who has taken the program to new heights in his first three seasons with the team.

MSU alumnae Lauren Kozal and Lauren Debeau were drafted by the Portland Thorns, while in 2022, alumna Ava Cook was, like Gaynor, drafted by the Red Stars.

In Gaynor’s two seasons spent with the Spartans, she amassed a total of 42 starts in her 43 total appearances and tallied up five goals and two assists. Gaynor excelled in the midfield in her first season but found her calling as a leader in the backline this year where she spent the majority of her time. 

Gaynor’s impressive play gained her recognition both in the Big Ten conference and nationally, earning a spot on the All-Big Ten First Team, and a spot on the United Soccer Coaches All-North Region Third Team.

The Chicago Red Stars finished the 2023 NWSL season with 24 points in 22 games, with a 7-12-3 record overall, ranking 12th in the league. 

Graduate defender Raegan Cox also registered for the NWSL Draft this year but did not hear her name in the four rounds. Cox had a remarkable 2023 for the Spartans as another key figure and leader of the Spartan backline. Cox registered 21 appearances all of which were starts, capturing a goal and four assists while playing a role in eight clean sheets. Cox joined Gaynor on the All-Big Ten First Team and also earned a spot on the United Soccer Coaches All-Region First Team.

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