Rochester, N.Y. – On an unseasonably chilly night in Rochester, it was the visiting Red Stars that struck first when Jessica McDonald led Lori Chalupny on a through-ball that the Captain was able to slot low into the net in the 52nd minute. But the Flash had their own answer when Abby Wambach put away a characteristic header just 2 minutes later, courtesy of a Brittany Taylor cross. The game winner would be another header from McCall Zerboni, and Taylor’s 2nd assist in the 66th minute to seal the 2-1 victory.
The first half was a scoreless and heavy back-and-forth affair with near opportunities for each side, but a truly stand-out performance came from rookie goalkeeper Taylor Vancil that was appearing in her first professional match tonight. She was standing in for Canadian-international Erin McLeod who was sitting out with a fractured right hand. Vancil came up huge on several occasions in the first-half making saves of every variety, from a diving stop on a Carli Lloyd blast to a 1v1 sliding save on Samantha Kerr.
Things were looking good for the Red Stars early in the second half when McDonald slotted Chalupny on a through-ball straight up the middle of the field. Chalupny calmly fended off Flash opposition and struck a low ball to the left of Flash goalkeeper Adriana Franch to give the Red Stars a rare lead this season. But just a few minutes later, Abby Wambach found herself alone beyond the Red Stars backline and she headed in a cross from Taylor to even the scoreline.
The victory blow came in the 66th minute off a Flash corner-kick. Taylor once again earned an assist when she headed the ball towards goal and Zerboni connected on the end of it. Vancil got her fingers on it but couldn’t keep it out of the net. There would be additional chances from each side in the final 24 minutes in what would amount to an exciting match, but the score would end at 2-1 in favor of the home side.
The physical match saw yellow cards handed out to two veteran players in the Red Stars’ Lori Chalupny and Flash’s Carli Lloyd.
The Red Stars will look to get this season on track in June when they take to the west coast for the first time to meet Portland Thorns FC, in what will be the teams’ third meeting of the year, Saturday, June 1st, 2pm PT. The team hopes to be reinforced by the debut of German internationals Sonja Fuss and Inka Grings who just arrived to the team this week. Co-Captain Leslie Osborne looks to return to action from an MCL sprain as well. The team will be back home against the Boston Breakers on Sunday, June 9th, 3pm. Tickets are available for the June 9th match by visiting chicagoredstars.ticketfly.com or calling 773-697-8699.