Chicago suffers dramatic defeat courtesy of stoppage-time goal
By Gunnar Berndt
Lisle, Ill. – The Chicago Red Stars fell 2-1 to visiting Washington Spirit on Sunday night, courtesy of a dramatic stoppage-time goal by forward Crystal Dunn. The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) goalscoring leader found the net against the run of play, as Melissa Tancredi’s equalizer for Chicago in the closing stages of regulation time had seen her side grab all the momentum and push for three points. Washington’s Megan Oyster scored the day’s first goal in the opening moments of the game.
The Spirit could have had an even earlier lead, as a nice one-two between Dunn and Nigeria striker Francisca Ordega in the second minute sent Dunn through one-one-one with Canada goalkeeping legend Karina LeBlanc, who rushed off her line to come up with an outstanding block. The visitors did take the lead on the ensuing corner kick, Nairn driving the ball in from the left and finding the head of Oyster, who nodded it down and inside the left upright to leave LeBlanc without a chance.
2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup star Ordega had the next close look for the Spirit, as she dispossessed defender Samantha Johnson in a dangerous area and drove into the box, only to see her well-struck attempt whistle just wide of the right post. Meanwhile, the Red Stars took until the half-hour mark to create a noteworthy chance, as Sofia Huerta sent Taryn Hemmings up the right flank and the outside back’s centering pass was fired just wide of the near post on a first-time effort by Jen Hoy.
It would be Washington back on the attack five minutes later. A fast break saw Ordega sprint into the penalty area on the left and dribble past two defenders before releasing a powerful effort that was too hot for netminder LeBlanc to control on the first try.
Chicago came out of the break with increased urgency, and Head Coach Rory Dames’ team created a promising look in the 53rd minute. Johnson picked out Huerta in the opposition half and the rookie did well to flick the ball on to Rachel Quon, whose drive from the left side of the box whizzed just past the far post. Teammate Danielle Colaprico fired narrowly wide of the same upright on a long-range effort in the 68th minute, pouncing on an opening following a well-weighted Vanessa DiBernardo corner from the right that forced Spirt shot-stopper Kelsey Wys to awkwardly palm the ball to the edge of the box.
The third time was the charm for the Red Stars in the second half, as they tied things up eight minutes from the end of regulation. Alyssa Mautz found herself with room as she sprinted toward the right side of the area, but instead of attempting to drive to the endline, she surprised the opposition with a clever out-swinging cross into space that allowed substitute Tancredi to shake off her marker and send a glancing header past Wys and inside the left post.
The goal visibly served to energize the hosts, who should have grabbed the lead in the 88th minute. Tancredi very nearly put away her second when another DiBernardo corner from the right was headed back across at the far post by another substitute, Abby Erceg, and the Canada ace nodded the ball toward the left post, only to see it slapped off the line courtesy of a stunning reflex save by Wys.
Instead of jubilation, the Chicago players, staff and fans experienced ruthless cruelty a mere five minutes after the massive opportunity. Deep inside stoppage time, the ever-dangerous Dunn seemed to be left with few options inside the Red Stars half but made exactly the right decision by taking on several opposition defenders, her last ditch shot sending the ball skipping off the turf and inside the left post for a precision finish.
The late tally left the home side with little time to respond, as Washington held on for a dramatic road win.
The Chicago Red Stars expect their World Cup champs Christen Press, Julie Johnston and Lori Chalupny back from the U.S. Women’s victory tour in time for the August 23 clash with visiting Western New York Flash. Tickets for the 2015 Red Stars campaign may be purchased by calling 773-698-6001 or by clicking here.
Chicago Red Stars vs. Washington Spirit 1-2
Venue: Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex, Lisle, IL
Scheduled kickoff time: 7:30 p.m. CT
Red Stars starting lineup:
LeBlanc, Gilliland, Johnson, Lomnicki, Hemmings, Colaprico, Quon, DiBernardo, Mautz, Hoy, Huerta
Washington starting lineup:
Wys, Reynolds, Oyster, Church, Johnson, Raso, Nairn, Lohman, Huster, Ordega, Dunn
Oyster WAS 3’ (Nairn)
Tancredi CRS 82’ (Mautz)
Dunn WAS 92+
Lomnicki CRS 44’ (defensive handling)
Red Stars substitutions:
Tancredi in for Quon 59’
Walls in for Hoy 68’
Erceg in for Huerta 86’
Matheson in for Raso 50’
Okobi in for Ordega 70’
Da Costa in for Lohman 84’