Lisle, IL (June 4, 2014) – Despite a dominating second-half performance by Chicago, it was Washington who was able to put away one of their late chances, with a short rebound shot by Jodie Taylor in the 77th minute. The Red Stars looked at many times like they would take the lead as the game wore on but Washington took advantage of a rare opportunity to get the go-ahead goal.
“We were a little bit flat throughout the whole game,” said Red Stars Captain Lori Chalupny. “It’s a shame because we were on such a good run the last couple games.”
The beginning of the match was solid back and forth play before Washington suffered an early setback, having to use one of their substitutions early on 2014 #1 overall college draft-pick Crystal Dunn in the 20th minute to an undisclosed injury.
The Red Stars best chance of the first half came on a long ball to forward Jen Hoy in the 21st minute. She broke down the right side heading to goal and took on Washington ‘keeper Ashlyn Harris but ended up having to pull the ball out. She passed off to Adriana Leon, who took a blast at goal but Harris again was up to task, pushing the ball out of play for a Red Stars corner kick.
Washington came alive as the half continued and put increased pressure on the Red Stars towards the end of the first half, but the teams would head into the locker room knotted without a tally for either side.
In the second half the Red Stars really came to life putting heavy pressure on the Spirit. There was a sequence of two near misses back-to-back starting with a Zakiya Bywaters right-footed shot from the left side to the right side of goal that forced Harris to make a diving save to push the ball out of play. In the 60th minute, Rachel Quon played a long cross from the right side that was headed by Washington defender Ali Krieger. Leon was there to volley the ball down and one touch a 20-yard shot that bounced off the crossbar.
In the 67th minute Hoy nearly picked off a Washington back-pass played to Harris. Harris was forced to clear but Chalupny was there to gather it. She took a few touches and blasted a left footer, forcing the Spirit ‘keeper had to make a diving save, sparing what would have been a disaster for Washington.
In spite of the Red Stars continued high pressure, Washington took the lead in the 77th minute, against the run of play. Diana Matheson played a ball wide left to Veronica Perez. Her low blast forced LeBlanc to make a diving save, but the Red Stars goalkeeper was only able to push it aside. Jodie Taylor was left open charging towards net and had no problem smashing it in to send the Spirit up 1-0.
Chicago pushed numbers forward towards the end and spent much of the final 10 minutes in the Washington defensive third of the field, but would walk away with nothing to show for it. With the win Washington (6-4-1) moves up to 19 points, tied with the Red Stars (6-3-1), but with a game in hand on Chicago.
This game marked the debut of New Zealand international defender Abby Erceg who put in 90 minutes for Chicago, as well as the return of defender Taryn Hemmings, who saw the field for the first time this season after suffering a knee injury during the 2013 season.
The Red Stars head back on the road to visit Seattle for the two teams’ first match-up of the season. It will be a massive battle as the #1 ranked Seattle is unbeaten this season, and a Red Stars victory would take them closer to the #1 slot. Then the Red Stars will return home for a Father’s Day battle with Sky Blue FC. For tickets, visit chicagoredstars.com/tickets/ or call 773-697-8699.