Piscataway, NJ – The Chicago Red Stars faced another road test as they battled it out with Sky Blue FC in New Jersey tonight. After going down an early goal after a hand-ball that resulted in a Sky Blue penalty kick in the 14th minute, the Red Stars bounced back to earn a point on the road with a 58th minute Hayley Brock goal, worthy of a highlight reel.
For Brock, the 21 year-old rookie out of Maryland, it was her first professional goal after being drafted by the Red Stars in the third round of the 2014 NWSL College Draft.
The Red Stars (1-2-1, 4 pts) were without some key figures tonight including goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc and midfielder Adriana Leon, as well as defender Julie Johnston. All are currently with their respective national teams as they prep for a USA v Canada friendly Thursday night in Winnipeg, Canada. Chicago didn’t miss a beat however as stand-in goalkeeper Taylor Vancil had a monster night in the net for the Red Stars, coming up huge on several occasions to keep Sky Blue off the board in the run of play.
“I thought the coaches prepared us well for this game and I was feeling confident in the team,” stated Vancil. “Having to make a few saves early was a good welcome to the match, but after that we settled in and had a good defensive performance. It’s always good to earn a point on the road.”
Sky Blue’s lone goal of the night came after midfielder Alyssa Mautz was called for a yellow card near midfield for a slide-tackle in the 14th minute. On the ensuing Sky Blue freekick, Julianne Sitch was spotted for an inadvertent hand-ball. Sky Blue midfielder Katy Freels calmly slotted the shot to give Sky Blue the early lead.
In spite of the Red Stars carrying much of the momentum at the end of the first half, they were not able to reach a tying goal before heading into halftime. Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Brittany Cameron was equally up to the task for the night as she came up big herself on many threatening Red Stars chances.
The Red Stars picked up in the second half where they left off, putting heavy pressure on Sky Blue. The tying goal would come off an unexpected circumstance after a freekick taken by Vanessa DiBernardo near midfield bounced to rookie forward Hayley Brock. Brock settled the ball, turned, and made a cut towards her right foot for a quick shot that she expertly placed in the far-side netting to put the Red Stars on the board.
The final 15 minutes of the match were a back and forth affair with both sides earning shot opportunities. The best of which came from the Red Stars in the 87th minute when Zakiya Bywaters turned on her blazing speed and beat Sky Blue’s defense to the right endline. Her low cross was put right on the foot of Jen Hoy, but Hoy’s shot deflected upwards and was saved by the bottom of the crossbar, denying the Red Stars the go-ahead goal.
“I’m pleased with the response from the KC game (where Red Stars lost 0-1),” said Head Coach Rory Dames. “We definitely created enough to win but we will take the point on the road and keep improving.”
The Red Stars will return home for a Mother’s Day tilt with expansion side Houston Dash on Sunday, May 11th. All moms get in free with an accompanying paid ticket. Visit chicagoredstars.com for more information or call 773-697-8699/email firstname.lastname@example.org.