Chicago, Ill. – After defeating the Washington Spirit 3-1 last weekend, Chicago will look to repeat their victory in Washington on Friday, September 30 as they take on the Spirit in the first of two 2016 National Women’s Soccer League Semifinal matches. The match will be broadcast live on FS1 at 7 p.m. CT.
Coming off a confidence-building 3-1 victory over the Spirit in their last regular season match, Chicago is prepared for their second NWSL playoff, this time traveling to Washington. Red Stars captain Christen Press notched the first goal early on in just the sixth minute of the match with the help of Chicago’s leading assister Vanessa DiBernardo. Twenty minutes later, Cara Walls scored her first goal of the season, eventually becoming the game-winning goal, thanks to the passing efforts of Sofia Huerta. In the first minute of the second half, Huerta added one herself, but only a minute later, Washington’s Crystal Dunn countered to round out the final scoreline, 3-1.
Looking back at the Red Stars regular season, head coach Rory Dames sees the improvement his team has made to get into the playoffs.
“I thought we started off slow and then found our way in the middle of the season,” said Dames. “Had a lot of turnovers from last year’s roster to this year’s roster with lots of questions coming into this season about leadership. I think we were finally able to settle in and found out who we were going to be this year.”
With the player turnovers from last year’s roster, much of the team remembers their fate in the 2015 NWSL Semifinal, a 3-0 defeat against FC Kansas City on Chicago’s home field.
Press remembers that day fairly well, but says that last year’s result will only help drive the team to flip the result and make it to the finals.
“We kind of have a chip on our shoulder about last match and how it went down,” said Press. “That’s helped motivate us and we’re going to play with a lot of pride on Friday. You have to fight a lot just to get to the semifinal.”
Washington Spirit is coming off a record two-game losing streak, losing both matches by two goals. The lone Spirit scorer the past two weeks is Dunn, who earned just her second goal of the season. Washington was able to get off 17 shots to Chicago’s 11, but were unable to find the back of the net but once, thanks to the tenacious efforts of the Red Stars backline.
The Red Stars know just what they have to do to make their first ever NWSL Final, and playing against Washington will be a tough match to get there. With the history the two teams have had, Dames knows how difficult the match will be.
“Winning the last game of the season is always a confidence boost. Against Washington, it’s always super close and super competitive.”
And Press also realizes, as captain, she will have to lead this team to victory, but knows her team has what it takes to accomplish the feat.
“If you look at our team – our group, the players in the club – I think that in the beginning of the year there were definitely questions, but the fact that we can power through a long and difficult season has proven to me what we are capable of.”
You can catch the first semifinal match of the 2016 NWSL post season as the Chicago Red Stars take on the Washington Spirit on September 30, at 7 p.m. CT live on FS1.
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