Chicago, Il – In spite of a heavy Red Stars attack for much of the match, Chicago had to settle for a disappointing 2-2 draw at home to visitors Sky Blue FC. Despite a strong team performance, it would be a game of missed opportunities for Chicago as they hit the upright and crossbar several times in the match, including on a first-half penalty kick.
“Good lessons learned for the group about how to put a team away,” said Red Stars Head Coach Rory Dames. “They deserved better but we will grow from this and keep going forward. Can’t fault the performance or effort.”
The Red Stars ended up playing into heavy wind for the first half of the match, but it didn’t seem to slow them down as they blasted off to a 2-0 halftime lead on goals from Alyssa Mautz and Zakiya Bywaters in the 21st and 31st minutes. Sky Blue found a 3-minute window to punish the homeside when Lindsi Cutshall and Maya Hayes scored in the 60th and 63rd minutes.
The Red Stars kicked-off scoring when Australian midfielder Emily Van Egmond played a cross towards goal that was sensationally headed into net by Alyssa Mautz. Mautz outleapt her defender on a leaning dive and was able to lob the header over goalkeeper Jillian Loyden to put the Red Stars on the board first.
Ten minutes later the Red Stars would show great teamwork in moving the ball, when Van Egmond again placed a cross from the left side to the right side that Jen Hoy had to out-leap her defender to get a head on. She perfectly placed the ball down into the path of Zakiya Bywaters, who had no problems slotting a low shot into goal from close range to send the Red Stars up 2-0 in the 31st minute.
Bywaters would have a hand in the next great Red Stars opportunity after bodying off her defender and turning to sprint towards goal, where was clipped from behind by Sky Blue FC defender Caitlin Foord in the 45th minute. Vanessa DiBernardo stepped up to take the kick, but had trouble keeping the ball at the penalty kick marker spot with the heavy winds playing against the Red Stars in the first half. She slotted her shot to the corner, but it deflected off the inside of the left post and rolled across goal and behind Loyden before heading out of play, denying the Red Stars a 3-0 lead by a sliver.
The Red Stars would have more trouble with the goalpost to start the second half, hitting it twice in two minutes, when DiBernardo would be denied again on a long-range strike in the 49th followed by Chalupny knocking a shot off the crossbar in the 50th. They also had a missed opportunity in the 56th when Hoy played a lobbed cross directly to Bywaters open in front of net, but Bywaters’ header was off the mark. This would come back to haunt the Red Stars, when SBFC scored twice in 3 minutes to level the scoreline even at 2’s. It started with a short cross from Camille Levin on the right side to Lindi Cutshall who bodied the ball into the net in the 60th. In the 63rd, Foord played a low through-ball to Hayes who was in a 1v1 with Red Stars keeper Taylor Vancil. She slotted her shot low past Vancil to give SBFC the tie.
The Red Stars battled back valiantly in the final 10 minutes looking for an equalizer and dominating offensive play, but in spite of a boost from late substitutes Taryn Hemmings and Melissa Tancredi, they came up short and had to settle for just a point at home.
“Frustrating result for us,” said Red Stars Captain Lori Chalupny, bluntly. “You can never be happy about blowing a two goal lead but we do have a young team and I think there were lessons learned today. We have to focus now on Wednesday and put together a more complete performance.”
With the tie, the Red Stars move in front of Washington for sole position in #3 in the league standings.
The Red Stars take to the road for two more matches this week when they visit Western New York Flash for a 7 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. CT match-up Wednesday then turn around and hit the road again to Kansas City for a Saturday night match-up at 7 p.m. After this brutal stretch the team will have some time off before heading to Portland on the 4th of July before finally returning home to meet Portland again on Wednesday, July 9th. For tickets, visit chicagoredstars.com/tickets/ or call 773-697-8699.