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Three former women’s soccer players going pro

Defender Chyanne Dennis was a stalwart in the team for five seasons and will play overseas in Iceland. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

Three former USF women’s soccer players signed professional contracts this month after finishing their collegiate careers in Tampa.

Defender Chyanne Dennis signed with Icelandic club UMF Afturelding on Monday, kickstarting her professional career after a stellar time in college.

Based just outside of the capital city of Reykjavík, Afturelding’s women’s team has inked a deal with Dennis on the brink of its first season in the Úrvalsdeild kvenna, the highest division of women’s soccer in Iceland.

“I am living out the dream I have been working towards since I started playing soccer at four years old,” Dennis said in a statement. “I am honored to play at the professional level [in] Iceland and have the opportunity to represent all female athletes. My goal is to empower others like me and positively influence the evolution of women’s soccer and sports.”

Dennis will join the team in February following some time with the Jamaican national team, who are scheduled to play two CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualifiers against Bermuda and Granada on Feb. 16 and 19, respectively.

During her five years at USF, Dennis played in 86 games, second on the program’s all-time leaderboard to fellow 2021 graduate midfielder/defender Sabrina Wagner.

Dennis’ tenure coincided with the most successful period in team history, winning a total of six conference championships, three titles in the regular season and three in the conference tournament. She also anchored the Bulls’ defense in five consecutive NCAA tournament runs, including a program-best NCAA Third Round appearance in 2019. 

“We’re so proud of Chyanne for taking the next step of her career with a great team in Iceland,” coach Denise Schilte-Brown said in a statement. “She deserves the opportunity and I’m thrilled to see the player she becomes as she starts her post-collegiate soccer career.”

On Tuesday, Dennis’ fellow defender/midfielder Paula Leblic agreed to join A.S.D. Pink Sport Time, a club in Italy.

Commonly known as Pink Bari CF, the team currently plays in the Italian Serie B, the country’s second division of women’s soccer.

Leblic transferred to USF in 2020 following three seasons at Oregon State. In her time with the Bulls she scored five goals and six assists in 29 games, all but two of which were starts.

As of Tuesday, Pink Bari CF sits in third place in the league standings, 11 games into the 23-match season. Leblic will join the team to assist in its pursuit of promotion to Serie A, where the club played in the previous three seasons.

“I’m so happy to see Paula sign with Pink Bari CF,” Schilte-Brown said. “She’ll be an incredible player for them and we’re thrilled to have been able to help her with her evolution as a soccer player in the last two years. I’m so proud of the player she has become.”

Another player that arrived to USF via transfer in 2020 was midfielder Meghan Cavanaugh, who signed a contract with Puerto Rico Sol FC on Jan. 18.

The Mayagüez-based club has enjoyed considerable success in Liga Puerto Rico Femenina, the island’s top women’s soccer division. It is the league’s defending champion and has finished in first place in every season of the league’s short history.

Cavanaugh moved to USF from UAlbany, scoring four goals and assisting one in 25 games.

“Meghan was a great player for us on and off the pitch and we’re excited to see her develop even more as a soccer player in Puerto Rico,” Schilte-Brown said. “I’m very proud of her for pursuing her passion with Puerto Rico Sol FC.”

Former USF forward Sydny Nasello was drafted by the NWSL’s Portland Thorns on Dec. 18, but has not signed a contract and will not play for the club in 2022. Her future remains uncertain.