Sun Devil Soccer’s Jayda Hylton-Pelaia selected by Chicago Red Stars in NWSL Draft
TEMPE, Ariz. – Sun Devil Soccer's Jayda Hylton-Pelaia was selected by the Chicago Red Stars with the 49th pick in Saturday's annual National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft.
Last January, ASU head coach Graham Winkworth announced Hylton-Pelaia – a Canadian defender and Jamaica full National Team player – would join the program as a graduate transfer from East Carolina for the Fall 2021 season.
The first Canadian selected and one of only six international players picked, Hylton-Pelaia's hard work and driven attitude earned her a starting spot on ASU's backline at the outset of the 2021 campaign. She would go on to start 16 of the 19 games she played in, accounting for one goal and two assists in addition to helping provide the Sun Devil defense with an experienced, stabilizing presence. This took on even great important during an injury-riddled season in which the Sun Devils lost their two-year starting goalkeeper Giulia Cascapera during preseason training.
"I could not be more proud of Jayda," Winkworth said. "We knew when we added her a year ago, she had this potential. Over the last 12 months I have loved watching her development and ability for success as a modern attacking full back.
"Most of all, I love when good things happen to good people. The Chicago players and staff are going to love her. She is an incredible teammate who is adored by everyone in our Sun Devil Soccer family."
During her time at ECU, Hylton-Pelaia accumulated many accolades. In her first game as a Pirate, she became the first foreign player in program history to appear in a game. She also received AAC All-Rookie team honors, starting in all 16 games with two shots on goal. Hylton-Pelaia continued to make an impact on the field during her sophomore campaign where she helped lead the defense to five shutouts.
Before suffering an injury in the 2019 season, Hylton-Pelaia had recorded two goals and five assists for the Pirates.
On the international stage, Hylton-Pelaia represented Jamaica at the 2019 Pan Am games in Lima, Peru. She started all four games for the Reggae Girlz and played all 360 minutes as Jamaica finished in seventh place.
The defender attended St. Augustine Catholic High School in Canada where she was captain and played varsity all four years. She was named female soccer MVP in 2013 and 2015 and helped lead the team to an undefeated season to win the ROPSAA championship.
On Saturday, the NWSL announced the preliminary competition framework for its historic 10th anniversary campaign, featuring a 132-game schedule and the return of the third annual NWSL Challenge Cup.
Players are set to report to a six-week preseason camp beginning on February 1, before kicking off the 2022 season on Saturday, March 19, with group play for the NWSL Challenge Cup. The Cup will feature three groups of four teams, playing double round-robin matches, semifinals and the NWSL Challenge Cup Final on Saturday, May 7, broadcast on the CBS Television Network and available to stream live on Paramount+.
The season will continue with each of the 12 teams then playing home and away matches against every other team in the league for the first balanced schedule in league history. Critically, the league has been able to build a schedule framework for 2022 that will significantly limit the number of games that occur during FIFA windows, ensuring the league's most accomplished players are able to compete for club and country with relatively few conflicts compared to recent years.
All told, each team will play 28 matches, 14 contests in home markets and 14 on the road. The full league schedule will be released at a later date.
Six teams will qualify for the NWSL playoffs set to take place beginning in October 2022, with the top two seeds receiving a first-round bye.
The 2022 campaign will end with the NWSL Championship the weekend of October 28-30.