Lisle, Ill. – A weather delay postponed the match for an hour but did not hamper the energy between the undefeated Chicago Red Stars Reserves Team and the Illinois State Champion Chicago Red Stars U-19 squad. Home to the Red Stars pro side, the Village of Lisle – Benedictine University Sports Complex played host to an intriguing exhibition game between these two teams.
The Reserves got out to a fast start using their pace on the left flank to get in behind the U-19’s backline. Despite the pressure, the U-19 defense remained compacted and organized to limit the Reserves chances in front of the net early on.
In the 14th minute the Reserves missed on an early opportunity when Nicole Waldeck sailed a cross in from the right side to find the head of Jacie Jermier. Jermier’s header flipped off the crossbar before the U-19s were able to clear the danger.
Only four minutes later, Ashleigh Ellenwood would open the scoring for her first of three goals on the night. Ellenwood used a deft touch to flip the ball over her defender just outside the 18 yard-box and then broke away for a one-on-one with keeper Sarah LeBeau. She slotted a calm shot to the far post for the 1-0 lead.
“I thought that we put a lot of hard work off the ball into getting that goal,” Ellenwood said. “So when I touched it I just happened to look up and see the goalie coming up and I just thought the other side would be open.”
Ellenwood would then give her team a 2-0 cushion off a deflected shot that found the back of the net in the 22nd minute.
In the final 15 minutes the U-19s started to find possession in the midfield using quick passes to work their way into the offensive half. They won several key individual battles and spent the last five minutes with the ball at their feet around the penalty area but were unable to create quality chances on net, remaining 2-0 down at the half.
The U-19’s Sydney McGuiness tried to jumpstart her team’s offense in the second half with a break away opportunity. With three players at her heels, she drove down the center of the pitch and made it to the top of the box before firing a shot right at keeper Vanessa Niestrom.
Ellenwood was able to counter the U-19’s chance, with her hat trick goal 8 minutes into the second half. She found a pass from the left side and once again fired a clean shot into the far post.
From there the game opened up for both teams with chances at each end. Each team displayed strong and disciplined defense at towards the end of the game.
“I thought it was great because we had players here tonight who were playing together for the first time. So it was good for us to get a chance to play against a really good team and sort-of figure things out,” U-19s Head Coach Phil Nielsen said. “I think going forward from this game we’ll have a much better understanding of how to defend as a team.”
The Red Stars Reserves Team plays next on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the Oak Brook Polo Fields against the Quad City Eagles. While the U-19s next action will be at the Midwest Region 2 Championship Tournament stating on June 20.