Away win sees Red Stars extend unbeaten streak to five games

By Gunnar Berndt

Seattle, Wash. – The Chicago Red Stars extended their unbeaten streak in National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) play to five games on Sunday evening, bagging a 2-1 away win over 2014 and 2015 regular season champs Seattle Reign FC. Seattle entered the match without three key players due to injury – Megan Rapinoe, Jess Fishlock and Manon Melis – and was further weakened by the absence of goalkeeping giant Hope Solo, who was dealing with a death in the family. Meanwhile, the Red Stars turned in an all-around impressive performance that featured more disciplined team defending, Jen Hoy’s first two tallies of the campaign and outstanding setup play by Vanessa DiBernardo.

Chicago’s Alyssa Naeher narrowly missed out on setting a new all-time NWSL record for consecutive shutouts, as Kim Little’s penalty kick in the closing stages of the match denied the U.S. netminder her fifth in a row.

After an uneventful opening twelve minutes, Red Stars left back Casey Short had the first dangerous look, as she pushed up her wing and released a wicked half-volley from the corner of the area that would have found its way inside the near post if not for a diving parry by goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer. The fans at Memorial Stadium subsequently had to wait until the 41st minute for another promising attempt, DiBernardo dispossessing a Seattle player just outside the box and releasing a rocket that forced an even more spectacular tip by Kopmeyer, who leaped to her right and scraped the ball out of the upper ninety.

The third time was not the charm for Chicago, as forward Christen Press saw her close-range effort two minutes from the end of the opening period deflected just over the frame by an opponent’s leg. Right back Arin Gilliland had joined the attack and produced a low centering ball that was hit first-time by the U.S. ace.

The Red Stars looked to have been denied again ten minutes into the second half, but this time Hoy followed the play and made sure the ball would find the back of the net. DiBernardo did well to pounce on a misplayed pass inside the center circle and threaded a beautiful feed through two defenders and into the path of a streaking Press, whose attempted one-one-one finish was brilliantly saved by Kopmeyer. However, the rebound fell right to the feet of Hoy, the former Princeton standout gently touching it inside the right post.

The striker would complete her brace a mere twelve minutes later, this time on an even better assist by DiBernardo, who once again found herself with the ball at her feet inside the center circle. The longest-tenured Chicago player did not hesitate for a second as she hit a perfectly timed ball over the top of the backline to release her third-year teammate on the right side of the area, the game-winner coming courtesy of a calm finish past the onrushing Kopmeyer and inside the far post.

In the 78th minute, Press came within inches of putting the game out of reach for the Red Stars, as she exploded toward the box before cutting to her right and smashing a powerful right-footed rocket off the underside of the crossbar from about 19 yards out.

Instead of extending their lead to three, the visitors saw it cut in half less than a minute from regulation, with Naeher coming agonizingly close to making history with what would have been her record-breaking firth straight clean sheet. On a nice attacking pass by Little, center back Samantha Johnson seemed to bring down Beverly Yanez inside the area and midfielder Little stepped up herself on the ensuing penalty kick to send the Chicago netminder the wrong way for a cool finish to Naeher’s left. However, it would only serve as consolation for the hosts, as the Red Stars held on for their fourth win in six NWSL games.

Head Coach Rory Dames’s squad looks to continue its unbeaten run when it returns home to take on Sky Blue FC on Sunday, May 29. Individual and season tickets for Chicago’s 2016 campaign at Toyota Park in Bridgeview may be purchased by calling 773-697-8699 or clicking here.

NWSL Match Report
Match: Seattle Reign FC vs. Chicago Red Stars
Date: May 22, 2016
Venue: Memorial Stadium; Seattle, Wash.
Kickoff: 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET)

Attendance: 4,056

Scoring Summary:

1 2 T
SEA 0 1 1
CHI 0 2 2

CHI  Jen Hoy 55’
CHI  Jen Hoy (Vanessa DiBernardo) 67’
SEA – Kim Little (penalty kick) 89’

Lineups:

SEA: 28-Haley Kopmeyer Goalkeeper; 7-Alli Reed Right Back (12-Paige Nielsen Substitute, 80’), 4-Rachel Corsie Center Back, 13-Kendall Fletcher Center Back, 3-Lauren Barnes Left Back; 16-Carson Pickett Right Midfielder (21-Michelle Cruz Substitute, 79’), 11-Keelin Winters Midfielder, 17-Beverly Yanez Midfielder, 8-Kim Little Midfielder, 25-Kiersten Dallstream Left Midfielder (32-Lindsay Elston Substitute, 63’); 9-Merritt Mathias Forward
Subs not used: 24-Andi Tostanoski Goalkeeper, 19-Havana Solaun Subsitute
Head Coach: Linda Harvey

CHI: 1-Alyssa Naeher Goalkeeper; 3-Arin Gilliland Right Back, 8-Julie Johnston Center Back, 16-Samantha Johnson Center Back, 6-Casey Short Left Back; 10-Vanessa DiBernardo Right Midfielder, 24-Danielle Colaprico Midfielder, 20-Sofia Huerta Midfielder, 13-Amanda DaCosta Left Midfielder (7-Taylor Comeau Substitute, 68’); 23-Christen Press Forward (capt.), 2-Jen Hoy Forward (15-Courtney Raetzman Substitute, 93+)
Subs not used: 18-Michelle Dalton Goalkeeper, 5-Katie Naughton Substitute, 14-Sarah Gorden Substitute, 34-Mary Luba Substitute
Head Coach: Rory Dames

Stats Summary: SEA / CHI
Shots: 6 / 11
Shots on Goal: 4 / 7
Saves: 5 / 2
Corner Kicks: 0 / 4
Fouls: 5 / 9
Offside: 3 / 5

Misconduct Summary:
SEA – Rachel Corsie (delay of game) 74’

Officials:
Referee: Reyna Fonseca
Assistant Referee 1: Cory Richardson
Assistant Referee 2: Joshua Haimes
Fourth Official: Seth Martin

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