Hemmings with the game-winner in rainy Kansas City
By Gunnar Berndt
Chicago, Illinois – A very rainy night came to a very good end for the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday, as the NWSL leaders grabbed a 2-1 road win in the blockbuster match of the week against defending champs FC Kansas City. While Sofia Huerta extended her streak of consecutive games with goals to three, defender Taryn Hemmings headed home the match-winner for Chicago in the closing stages of a meeting that was delayed due to inclement weather and characterized by pouring rain throughout the 90 minutes.
The Red Stars nearly fell behind early when goalkeeper Michele Dalton found herself under pressure from Sarah Hagen in the 7th minute and saw her attempted clearance ricochet off the opposition striker and trickle just wide of the frame. The visitors from Illinois had their first promising look just after the half-hour mark, left back Arin Gilliland driving all the way to the by-line and sending in a dangerous low ball that was redirected at the near post by Jen Hoy and tipped wide by netminder Nicole Barnhart.
Moments later, Chicago found the back of the net. Vanessa DiBernardo earned her league-leading fourth assist by swinging in a corner kick from the right that found rookie Huerta, whose exquisite touch sent the ball through traffic and inside the far post to make it 1-0. The tally saw Huerta draw level with Crystal Dunn at the top of the NWSL goal-scoring charts.
FCKC had a quality chance to tie things up in the waning moments of the first period, as Hagen sprinted on to a long ball from inside her own half, only to see her right-footed drive from the top of the area sail wide of the far post.
After the break, U.S. international Hagen continued to cause problems for the Red Stars backline. The 25-year-old made a determined near-post run on a 52nd-minute cross in from the right and was unlucky to see her close-range redirect roll just wide of the left post. The hosts refused to let up and had consecutive chances on corner kicks just four minutes later, Hagen coming closest on the second look as she met an in-swinger from the left at the far post and sent a volleyed attempt over the bar from the doorstep.
FCKC would finally break through in the 68th minute. Two players with U.S. Women’s National Team experience combined, as Erika Tymrak swung in another corner from the left and veteran defender Amy LePeilbet back-tracked to get her head on the ball and send it past goalkeeper Dalton for a well-deserved equalizer.
Chicago responded well to the setback, as Head Coach Rory Dames’ squad subsequently managed to keep the defending champions from creating any significant opportunities. Then, in the 82nd minute, defender Hemmings pounced on the chance to give the visitors all three points. Danielle Colaprico’s corner kick from the left found the head of Michelle Lomnicki, whose attempt was tipped against the post by Barnhart, the rebound falling right to Hemmings for a simple nod over the goal-line.
It would be the game’s final noteworthy moment, as Chicago did well to slow down play in the closing stages and come away with a valuable three points that keeps them at the top of the NWSL standings.
The Red Stars look to remain unbeaten through seven regular season games when they travel to take on current Shield holders Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, May 30. The club’s next home match is on June 20 against Washington Spirit. Single-game and season tickets for the 2015 Chicago Red Stars campaign may be purchased by visiting www.chicagoredstars.com or by calling 773-698-6001.
Chicago Red Stars at FC Kansas City 2-1
Venue: Swope Soccer Complex, Kansas City, MO
Scheduled kickoff time: 7 p.m. CT
Red Stars starting lineup:
Dalton, Gilliland, Lomnicki, Johnson, Hemmings, Quon, Colaprico, DiBernardo, Mautz, Hoy, Huerta
FCKC starting lineup:
Barnhart, Robinson, LePeilbet, Averbuch, Moros, Buczkowski, Laddish, Tymrak, Bogus, Groom, Hagen.
Goals: Huerta CRS 33’ (DiBernardo) – LePeilbet CRS 68’ (Tymrak) – Hemmings CRS (Lomnicki) 82’
Johnson CRS 39’ (caution – reckless foul)
Quon CRS 59’ (caution – reckless foul)
Groom CRS 90+ (caution – reckless foul)
Red Stars substitutions:
Walls for Hoy 71’
Luba for Mautz 78’
Kastor for Bogus 56’