The Chicago Red Stars dropped their first scrimmage match of the preseason to Racing Louisville FC 3-2 in the club’s first-ever scrimmage match in Indiana.
Penelope Hocking, the Red Stars’ first-round draft pick, and Sophie Jones, the Red Stars’ fourth-round draft pick, were the lone rookies in the starting lineup for the Red Stars. The Penn State and Duke alumnae were joined by Tierna Davidson and Casey Krueger in the starting lineup, both of whom saw their first game action since the 2021 National Women’s Soccer League season.
As the match kicked off, the Red Stars were eager to put pressure on Louisville’s players, hoping to cause and capitalize on mistakes. Their high pressure paid off when Hocking caused a turnover by Louisville in their own half that fell to Yuki, who sent a leading ball toward Hocking as she ran toward goal. Louisville’s keeper was able to come out to clear the danger before Hocking could get to the ball. Just a few minutes later in the half, the keeper would not be able to clear the danger of Chicago’s attack.
Krueger, who made her way deep into Louisville territory, found the space to take a strike that was deflected out for a corner for the Red Stars. From the corner, Yuki was able to send a ball that rattled out to Tierna Davidson. Davidson in turn lofted a ball from her position in midfield into the Louisville 18-yard box, found the head of Krueger who was able to get it across the box past Louisville’s defenders and onto the foot of Jenna Bike who buried the shot and give Chicago the lead.
Chicago’s continuous pressure on Louisville paid off again later in the first half. After forcing a turnover, the Red Stars found Yuki at the top of Louisville’s 18-yard box. Turning into space, Yuki sent a ball to a leading Stevens who was immediately swarmed by two Louisville defenders. Stevens weathered the pressure and found Hocking with a pass across the box who was able to flick the ball past the diving Louisville keeper to put the Red Stars up, 0-2.
Despite the two first-half goals, Chicago was unable to keep Louisville off the board. A fifty-fifty ball in Chicago’s half rattled off of Sophie Jones and fell to the feet of a Racing player who took a strike that bent into the upper ninety of Chicago’s goal, making the score 1-2 at the end of the first half.
The second half saw a complete line change for the Red Stars, with the exception of Jill Aguilera who came on in the first half for Tierna Davidson. The young Red Stars played valiantly against Racing’s starters, but were unable to maintain the one goal lead. Despite the disadvantage in experience, the young Red Stars made their presence felt.
Applying pressure on Louisville’s backline fell to Ava Cook and Ally Schlegel, the Red Stars’ second-round draft pick. Both players were able to disrupt Racing’s passing patterns by reacting quickly to apply pressure and tip passes going forward. On multiple occasions Cook and Schlegel would go on runs down the wings, stopping on a dime to lose their defender and create space to cross the ball into the box.
Controlling the midfield were Samantha Fisher and Addie McCain. Fisher would use her agility and creativity on the ball to get herself open and create enough space to spread the ball around and keep the momentum going forward. When the ball found McCain’s feet, the midfielder would direct the Red Stars’ attack, applying a calming presence for the team and finding Cook with the occasional through ball.
As the preseason continues, the Red Stars will face the Kansas City Current and Gotham FC as the team heads to Florida to train at IMG Academy.
Red Stars Starting Lineup: Emily Boyd, Tatumn Milazzo Tierna Davidson, Casey Krueger, Arin Wright, Cari Roccaro, Sophie Jones, Jenna Bike, Yuki Nagasato, Penelope Hocking, Ella Stevens
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