The Chicago Red Stars are no stranger to the National Women’s Soccer League Semifinals. This year will mark the third-consecutive season the Red Stars will make an appearance in the post season.
This year’s playoff race was tighter than ever, with the final two spots being clinched in Week 21, but it wasn’t until the final week of regular season that the semifinal matchups were locked in. Chicago will be heading to North Carolina to face the Courage, who last year won the NWSL Championship as Western New York Flash.
The history between these two teams this season was one to watch, as the Red Stars were the only team that the Courage could not defeat.
Here’s a look back at the previous three match ups against the 2017 Supporter’s Shield winners:
Week 6 – May 21 – 3-1 W
Fifth-place Chicago was taking the road for just the third time this season, finding themselves with a 0-2-0 away record. North Carolina was coming off their first loss of the season, but still found themselves undefeated at home and in first place.
The game started with action on both sides of the field, but it was Chicago who took the lead in the 30th minute off a Christen Press penalty kick. Just seven minutes later, the Red Stars doubled their lead with a Sofia Huerta goal, assisted by Press. Chicago stunned North Carolina fans after Vanessa DiBernardo finished their third goal just before halftime to bring their lead to 3-0 over the Courage.
The Courage would gain just one goal in the match, suffering their first loss at home. The Red Stars became the first team to win on North Carolina soil and gave the Courage it’s second-straight loss of the season.
Week 7 – May 27 | 3-2 W
After their win against North Carolina the week prior, Chicago jumped up to third place, settling into the top four spots for the remainder of the season. The Red Stars turned right around and hosted the Courage in yet another heated battle.
Midfielder Danielle Colaprico opened the scoring in the 27th minute off a DiBernardo assist. But North Carolina would counter in first-half stoppage time as Samantha Mewis assisted captain Abby Erceg’s goal.
Nearly ten minutes into the second half, Press helped Alyssa Mautz get Chicago back in the lead, with DiBernardo upping the score by two just five minutes after. North Carolina wasn’t quite done yet, as Debinha notched a late goal, but it wasn’t enough to give the Courage the edge.
Chicago became the first team to defeat North Carolina twice, while also handing the Courage their third-straight defeat. After the weekend play, Chicago made its way up to second place and would hold onto that spot for the next six weeks.
Week 19 – September 3 | 2-1 W
Chicago came into their final home match in third place, still on the edge of clinching a spot to play in the post season for the third consecutive year.
For the first time, the Red Stars went down a goal to the Courage, as Lynn Williams and North Carolina took the lead in the 15th minute of the match. The score would stay the same for the remainder of the first half.
The second half looked better for Chicago, as Japan international Yuki Nagasato earned her first goal of the season, which equalized in the 52nd minute. Looking as though the game would end in a draw, Julie Ertz notched the game winner with just six minutes remaining in the match.
Chicago became the only team to defeat North Carolina in every matchup.
Semifinals – Game 2
Chicago will look to win their first ever NWSL Semifinal match when they head to North Carolina for the second time this season on Sunday, October 8. The semifinal game will kick off at 2:30 p.m. CT, and will be broadcast live on Lifetime.