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Red Stars move up to elite level

Naperville's Michele Weissenhofer, right, is a member of the 2012 Red Stars. (Jeff Vorva/Tribune)

Naperville's Michele Weissenhofer, right, is a member of the 2012 Red Stars. (Jeff Vorva/Tribune)

The Chicago Red Stars are in their first season in the newly created Women’s Premier Soccer Elite League and opened up the 2012 season with a pair of 2-0 victories over FC Indiana.

The Elite League features some of the top pro and amateur teams in the country, including former members of the defunct Women’s Professional Soccer League.

Elk Grove Village's Elise Addis is a member of the 2012 Chicago Red Stars. (Jeff Vorva/Tribune)

The competition figures to be tougher than last year when the Red Stars finished 8-1-1 and won the Midwest Division championship and were national runnerup in the Women’s Premier Soccer League but owner Arnim Whisler said that several offseason additions will make his team better than last year.

There is a heavy local presence on the squad again this year.

From the western suburbs, Naperville’s Vanessa DiBernardo and Michelle Weissenhofer, Glen Ellyn’s Kristin Eggert, St. Charles’ Jamie Forbes, Geneva’s Jackie Santacaterina and Samantha Scofield and Downers Grove’s Niki Sebo are on the squad.

Glen Ellyn's Kristin Eggert stops some shots during a recent Red Stars practice. (Jeff Vorva/Tribune)

From the north and northwest suburbs, Elk Grove Village’s Elise Addis and Jen Buczkowski, Deerfield’s Alexandra Heller, Lake Forest’s Kelsey Hough and Nicle Lipp, Arlington Heights’ Vanessa Laxgang, Lake Villa’s Kecia Morway, and Lake Zurich’s Erin Pekovitch are on the team.

From the south suburbs, New Lenox’s Allison Doyle, Lockport’s Kara Kabellis, Orland Park’s Mary Therese McDonnell and Homer Glen’s Shayla Mutz are a part of the team.

The Oak Brook-based team played its games at Benedictine University in 2011, but the Lisle facility is undergoing a facelift. Some games will be at Benedictine and others at North Central College in Naperville, Concordia University in River Forest and Northwestern University in Evanston.

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