Scoreless match eliminates Western New York from postseason contention
By Gunnar Berndt
Lisle, Ill. – The Chicago Red Stars clinched their first ever National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) playoff berth on Sunday evening, behind a scoreless draw with visiting Western New York Flash. While Chicago had the majority of the possession throughout the match and created several excellent opportunities, in the end a point was enough for Head Coach Rory Dames’ squad, which eliminated Western New York from postseason contention in the process.
The Flash had the first noteworthy look of the game in the fourth minute of play, Abby Dahlkemper sending a low cross in from the left flank that was met by the foot of Jamia Fields, who failed to make clean contact on the ball and saw hew effort roll narrowly wide of the right post.
The Red Stars nearly opened the scoring at the other end, as Vanessa DiBernardo’s 16th-minute corner kick from the right that was headed back toward the near post by Abby Erceg, only for U.S. star Julie Johnston to miss the ball by inches on her attempt to nod home from less than a yard out. It would be Western New York back on the attack two minutes later, but Chicago goalkeeper Michele Dalton did well to tip Smantha Mewis’ shot from the right side of the box over the frame.
Attacking ace Christen Press had the next look for the Red Stars halfway through the opening period, the 26-year-old receiving the ball from strike partner Sofia Huerta just outside the penalty area and seeking out the left side of the frame with a curling effort. Instead, the ball instead sailed past the wrong side of the post and out for a goal kick. Huerta had an even better chance to put her side on the board in the 36th minute, as she was picked out by captain Lori Chalupny for a one-on-one with netminder Chantel Jones, who breathed a sigh of relief after making a comfortable stop on the mishit finish.
After Chicago’s Press sent a dipping volley just over the frame on a headed clearance of Danielle Colaprico’s 38th-minute corner kick, Huerta found herself in nearly the same situation as on her previous one-on-one with Jones, only this time on a setup by Press. Determined not to let another golden opportunity go to waste, rookie Huerta looked to pick out the inside of the right post with a powerful finish, only to see the ball kept out courtesy of a spectacular reaction save by the Flash goalkeeper.
Western New York’s Lynn Williams had the first close look of the second half, as she drove into the penalty area on the left and released a strong effort hat whistled just wide of the right post.
Following a relatively uneventful stretch of the game, Red Stars substitute Melissa Tancredi had two more promising chances before her side focused on securing the clean sheet along with their ticket to the NWSL postseason. After seeing her 79th-minute blast from the right edge of the box whiz just over the bar, the Canadian international nearly benefitted from an outside-of-the-foot pass by Alyssa Mautz toward the center of the area, as she hit the ball first-time and once again missed narrowly high.
With the postseason fast approaching, the Chicago Red Stars look to gain momentum when they hit the road for a rematch with Western New York on August 29. Chicago’s season finale is on September 6 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, as the club hosts superstar Carli Lloyd and Houston Dash. Tickets for all Red Stars matches may be purchased by calling 773-698-6001 or by clicking here.
Chicago Red Stars vs. Western New York Flash 0-0
Venue: Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex, Lisle, IL
Scheduled kickoff time: 4 p.m. CT
Red Stars starting lineup:
Dalton, Gilliland, Erceg, Johnston, Hemmings, Colaprico, Chalupny, Mautz, DiBernardo, Huerta, Press
Flash starting lineup:
Jones, Dahlkemper, Taylor, Engen, Hinkle, Edwards, Spencer, Mewis, Fields, Heyman, Williams
Red Stars substitutions:
Tancredi in for Hemmings 60’
Hoy in for Mautz 85’
Eddy in for Fields 53’
Ayinde in for Spencer 66’
Nchout in for Mewis 77’