Late Hagen equalizer prevents Red Stars win over defending NWSL champs
By Gunnar Berndt
Lisle, Ill. – For the second time in a row, the Chicago Red Stars saw a win slip away in the closing stages of a clash with a fellow NWSL title contender. After last week’s 1-1 away draw with Washington Spirit, Chicago striker Christen Press bagged a brace against FC Kansas City on Saturday night to extend her goal-scoring streak to three games, another World Cup winner, Lori Chalupny, earning a pair of assists in the process. However, it wasn’t enough for the Red Stars, who saw their goals canceled out by FCKC’s Amy LePeilbet and Sarah Hagen, whose late equalizer earned a point for the defending champions.
Playing in front of their second consecutive sellout crowd, the Red Stars took the lead in the 12th minute of the match. Captain Lori Chalupny hit a perfectly timed ball over the top of the defense, allowing Press to latch on to the ball, take a clever touch around onrushing goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland and slot into the open net for the day’s first strike.
The visitors from Kansas tied the score in the 35th minute, as Lauren Holiday’s corner kick from the right was redirected off netminder Michele Dalton and inside the near post via snap-header by veteran LePeilbet. FCKC could have turned the match around three minutes from the break, Red Stars defender Abby Erceg’s desperation foul keeping Amy Rodriguez from sprinting on to a threaded pass from midfield. Fortunately for the New Zealand skipper, referee Matthew Franz opted for a yellow card on the play and Yael Averbuch curled the ensuing free-kick from the edge of the box just over the frame.
The fans at Benedictine University in Lisle subsequently had to wait until the 64th minute for the next noteworthy action, Michele Dalton coming up with back-to-back spectacular saves. First the Chicago goalkeeper palmed Heather O’Reilly’s’s long-range rocket over the frame in spectacular fashion. Then she back-tracked on the ensuing corner kick from the right and left her feet just in time to keep superstar Lauren Holiday from converting directly, tipping the delicate attempt over the crossbar.
Instead of an FCKC tally, Press gave the Red Stars the lead in the 74th minute. On Chalupny’s short pass from just outside the box, the attacker found herself facing away from goal and seemingly without options, but that didn’t keep her from producing pure magic. The 26-year-old Press displayed stunning footwork as she faked out her marker, cut to her left and turned on a dime, followed by a beautiful curler across goal and into the upper ninety for her eighth strike in just six games this season.
The spectacular score visibly served to energize Head Coach Rory Dames’ squad, which came agonizingly close to doubling its advantage four minutes later. After rookie Danielle Colaprico blasted a shot off the bar from just outside the area, Alyssa Mautz pounced on the rebound to drive a first-time attempt on frame that forced Rowland to dive to her right and deflect the ball wide by way of an excellent fingertip save.
Just as it seemed like the Red Stars might be able to hold on for a massive win over the defending NWSL champions, substitute Hagen had other plans, beating a defender to the ball at the doorstep to head home O’Reilly’s well-weighted cross from the right flank. The home side could have reclaimed its advantage deep inside stoppage time, but the referee’s whistle remained silent on what looked like a potential handball by FCKC defender Sauerbrunn to block substitute Vanessa DiBernardo’s cross in from the right.
The Chicago Red Stars travel to take on mighty Portland Thorns FC on August 9. The club’s next home match is an August 12 clash with Sky Blue FC. Single-game and season tickets for the 2015 Red Stars campaign may be purchased by clicking here or by calling 773-698-6001.
Chicago Red Stars vs. FC Kansas City 2-2
Venue: Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex, Lisle, IL
Scheduled kickoff time: 7 p.m. CT
Red Stars starting lineup:
Dalton, Lomnicki, Johnston, Erceg, Hemmings, Quon, Colaprico, Chalupny, Mautz, Huerta, Press
FCKC starting lineup:
Rowland, Robinson, LePeilbet, Sauerbrunn, Moros, Buczkowski, Averbuch, Bogus, O’Reilly, Holiday, Rodriguez
Press CRS 13’ (Chalupny)
Press CRS 74’ (Chalupny)
LePeilbet FCKC 35’ (Holiday)
Hagen FCKC 87’ (O’Reilly)
Erceg CRS 42’ – caution (defensive handling)
Red Stars substitutions:
DiBernardo in for Quon 64’
Tancredi in for Huerta 76’
Tymrak in for Bogus 64’
Hagen in for Moros 77’
Silva in for Averbuch 86’