Houston, TX – The Red Stars battled through adversity in Houston to defeat the Dash 3-1 on the road, with goals from Vanessa DiBernardo, Alyssa Mautz, and Jen Hoy. Chicago (5-2-1, 16 pts) moves back into 2nd place in the NWSL league standings and take their win streak to four matches.
“I’m proud of the group’s resilience tonight,” said Head Coach Rory Dames. “It was a great response after the early goal to go back up and get the second goal, then for Jen (Hoy) to get the third was big. Then we held on and survived together to see the game out.”
The Red Stars started the game smashing from the kickoff, when they freed forward Jen Hoy down the right sideline. After the Dash had a failed clearance attempt, Captain Lori Chalupny put in a lobbed chip shot that hit the crossbar before Houston was able to send it out of danger.
The Red Stars continued on the attack and in the 10th minute Chalupny picked the pocket of Dash defender on the endline and sent a low, short cross to Adriana Leon. Leon’s attempt was blocked by a wall of Dash players, but Houston’s Becky Edwards fell on the play. Red Stars rookie DiBernardo was there to charge towards goal and Edwards was called for a handball while on the ground. DiBernardo calmly blasted the ball into the right corner of the net on the ensuing penalty kick, beating the outstretched Dash goalkeeper Erin McLeod to put the Red Stars in the lead early.
The Red Stars would have to make an early substitution when midfielder Jackie Santacaterina went down injured after taking a hard knock to the head. Julianne Sitch entered for her in the 27th minute. The Dash would have to make their own sub later in the half when Jordan Jackson blocked a DiBernardo line-drive of a corner kick with her head in the 39th.
The rest of the half would be a physical battle with many fouls called for each side. The Dash earned their fair share of first-half corner kicks but weren’t able to convert. They earned their best first half chance in the 32nd minute when they broke through the Red Stars backline and Nina Burger received a pass just inside the 18-yard box. Defender Michelle Wenino took an untimely stumble and fell into Burger, setting the Dash up for a penalty kick. Dash midfielder Becky Edwards stepped up to take the kick and attempted a low pass into the right corner of the net, but Red Stars Canadian goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc was there to make the sliding save and keep the Red Stars up 1-0.
“As a goalkeeper, I love PKs,” said LeBlanc after the match. “My first thought is that this is an opportunity to make a difference in the game.”
The Red Stars had one more great chance of the half when Chalupny pulled a cheeky move on the left sideline and headed towards the endline before finding a cross, but it ended up cleared by the Dash. That scoreline would hold heading into halftime.
The Dash would receive an early second half boost from substitute Ella Masar who received a long cross from Edwards and one-touched it into the net in the 51st.
The Red Stars responded quickly in the 54th minute, when defender Rachel Quon played a ball into Hoy. Hoy battled two defenders to win the ball and nod it down to onrushing Alyssa Mautz. Mautz calmly dribbled towards McLeod and slotted away a low shot into the far post to put the Red Stars back on top 2-1.
Just 8 minutes later, the Red Stars would earn a freekick near the left corner when Mautz was pushed off the ball by a Houston defender. DiBernardo took a driving freekick and Hoy charged it with a header to put the Red Stars up 3-1 in the 62nd. Dash Head Coach Randy Waldrum would be ejected from the match moments later after a heated discussion with the referee.
On a bizarre moment in the 89th minute, Tancredi stepped out to take a throw-in then dropped the ball to let Wenino take it. The center referee immediately issued a yellow card, her second of the match, and she found herself ejected. The Red Stars battled with everything they had the final minutes of stoppage, while down to 10 players, to earn the 3-1 road win.
The Red Stars have now scored 11 goals in the last 4 matches, while only giving up 3. With the win, the Red Stars return to 2nd place in the league standings, just 6 points behind the leaders Seattle Reign FC.
“Our team is in a good place right now as a group,” continued LeBlanc. “This is just a third of the season and we have a lot of things we need to work on. We will continue to build on these things and take it one game at a time.”
“We are by no means satisfied, but we are happy.”
The Red Stars will be off to New Jersey for a midweek match-up next Wednesday, May 28 against Sky Blue FC. This will mark the second meeting in NJ between the two teams this season. The first round ended in a 1-1 tie on May 7. The next home game for the Red Stars will be on Wednesday, June 4th for a rematch versus the Washington Spirit in what will mark Pride Night. For tickets, visit chicagoredstars.com/tickets/ or call 773-697-8699.