Struggle to contain Flash attacking trio of Sanderson, Williams and McDonald

By Gunnar Berndt

Rochester, N.Y. – The Chicago Red Stars fell 2-0 away to Western New York Flash on Friday night in a match that saw impressive performances from the hosts’ attacking trio of Lynn Williams, Jessica McDonald and newly acquired England ace Lianne Sanderson. After a strong start by Chicago, the Flash increasingly gained the upper hand and grabbed all three points courtesy of strikes by Sanderson in the first half and Williams after the break. With the win, Western New York has leapfrogged its opposition from the Windy City for second place in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) standings.

Following some inclement weather that delayed the kickoff by just over an hour, the Red Stars dominated play in the opening stages of the match and came agonizingly close to taking the lead in the 5th minute. Midfielder Amanda DaCosta released a thunderous effort from well outside the box that smashed off the underside of the crossbar. Western New York had a near miss of its own shortly after the quarter-hour mark, the ball falling to Sanderson at the doorstep, only for the 28-year-old to touch it wide of the frame.

It would be Chicago again mere moments later, as attacker Alyssa Mautz slid into a low drive by Casey Short from the left side of the area, the short-range redirect skipping narrowly past the the right post. The Flash did not waste any time on the immediate counter, Williams sprinting on to a long ball over the top for an open opportunity inside the penalty area, only to see her low shot across goal well stopped by diving goalkeeper Michele Dalton.

The home side would not be denied in the 37th minute. On a floated Makenzy Doniak cross from the right flank, former Red Stars forward McDonald rose above everyone at the far post and headed the ball off the opposite upright, where Sanderson was waiting to tap home the rebound. Chicago nearly had a perfect response to the setback late in the half, Sofia Huerta poking the ball through to strike partner Jen Hoy inside the box and the 25-year-old firing just wide of the left post as she was thrown off ever so slightly by a last-ditch sliding tackle.

Western New York was first to knock on the door after the break. McCall Zerboni chipped a nice ball toward McDonald from the left side of the penalty area and the Arizona native rose up once more to nod the ball narrowly over the frame.

The home side then took full control of the match starting around the halfway point of the second period, as the Red Stars were forced to defend a barrage of attacks and corner kicks, one of which resulted in the wildest sequence of the match. In the 64th minute, Abby Dahlkemper’s service from the right was met by the head of another former Chicago player, Abby Erceg, whose goalbound effort took a deflection off an opposition player before being scraped off the line by DaCosta. Katie Naughton subsequently struggled to clear, allowing another attacking toe-poke that saw the ball bounce off the right post.

The Flash finally did double its lead ten minutes later, McDonald this time playing provider as she sent in a cross from the right that was hit first-time by Williams in the center. Red Stars goalkeeper Michele Dalton dove to her right and managed to get a hand on the well-struck attempt but couldn’t keep it from finding the side-netting. In the 81st minute, Dalton’s teammate Alyssa Mautz had a chance to pull one back for Chicago when she applied pressure on a long ball over the top, only to see netminder Katelyn Rowland alertly rush out of the box and throw herself into the attempted finish to extinguish the danger.

Four minutes from regulation time, McDonald was involved in the Flash’s offense one last time, and she came within less than an inch of adding her own name to the score sheet. Williams sprinted down the left flank with the ball at her feet and managed to pick out her strike partner inside the penalty area. Positioned with her back to the goal and to the left of center, McDonald awed those in attendance with a beautiful turn past center back Samantha Johnson and a right-footed blast off the far post.

It would be the final noteworthy action of the night, as Chicago suffered its second consecutive 2-0 defeat away from home and now looks to bounce back in a July 9 road clash with Orlando Pride. Head Coach Rory Dames’ squad returns home on July 23 for a highly anticipated Pride Night meeting with Houston Dash. Individual and season tickets for the Red Stars’ 2016 campaign at Toyota Park in Bridgeview may be purchased by clicking here or by calling 773-697-8699.

NWSL Match Report
Match: Chicago Red Stars at Western New York Flash 0-2
Date: July 1, 2016
Venue: Rhinos Stadium, Rochester, N.Y.
Scheduled kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Attendance: N/A

Scoring Summary:

1 2 T
WNY 1 1 2
CHI 0 0 0

WNY – Lianne Sanderson 37’
WNY – Lynn Williams 74’ (Jessica McDonald)

Lineups:

WNY: 1-Katelyn Rowland Goalkeeper; 4-Elizabeth Right Back, 13-Abby Dahlkemper Center Back, 8-Alanna Kennedy Center Back, 25-Meredith Speck Left Back; 3-Makenzy Doniak Right Midfielder (3-Taylor Smith Substitute, 61’), 6-Abby Erceg Midfielder (capt.), 10-Lianne Sanderson Midfielder (2-Michaela Hahn Substitute, 87’), 7-McCall Zerboni Left Midfielder; 14-Jessica McDonald Forward, 9-Lynn Williams Forward (17-Kristen Hamilton Substitute, 91+)
Subs not used: 28-Britt Eckerstrom Goalkeeper, 22-Laura Liedle Substitute, 23-Courtney Niemiec Substitute, 19-Adriana Leon Substitute
Head Coach: Paul Riley

CHI: 18-Michele Dalton Goalkeeper; 3-Arin Gilliland Right Back, 5-Katie Naughton Center Back, 16-Samantha Johnson Center Back, 6-Casey Short Left Back; 4-Alyssa Mautz Right Midfielder, 10-Vanessa DiBernardo Midfielder (capt.), 24-Danielle Colaprico Midfielder (14-Sarah Gorden Substitute, 78’), 13-Amanda DaCosta Left Midfielder (7-Taylor Comeau Substitute, 66’); 11-Sofia Huerta Forward, 2-Jen Hoy Forward (12-Cara Walls Substitute, 46’)
Subs not used: 33-Brianna Smallidge Goalkeeper, 15-Courtney Raetzman Substitute, 34-Mary Luba Substitute
Head Coach: Rory Dames

Stats Summary: WNY / CHI
Shots: 18 / 9
Shots on Goal: 8 / 5
Saves: 4 / 6
Corner Kicks: 8 / 1
Fouls: 8 / 6
Offside: 2 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
WNY – McCall Zerboni (yellow card) 78’

Officials:
Referee: Danielle Brzezinski-Chesky
Assistant Referee 1: Ben Pilgrim
Assistant Referee 2: Jeffrey Skinker
Fourth Official: Lauren Dearman

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