Chicago Moves Into Coveted Fourth Place Playoff Spot
Lisle, IL – It would take a stellar performance from the home side to overtake the undefeated league leaders Seattle Reign FC, but the Red Stars did just that on a rainy July night, with a one-goal victory. Melissa Tancredi blasted the only tally home off a right-footed volley in the 8th minute from a ball played over the top of the defense by Julie Johnston. With the win, the Red Stars have leap-frogged the Western New York Flash for the coveted final playoff spot.
The Red Stars defense was also in impeccable form, as Chicago goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc and company held off the league goal-scoring leaders to a secure the team’s 4th shutout of the season.
“We look at the big picture,” said LeBlanc. “We want to make it to the playoffs and then we want to win the championship. This was the next step to make that happen. Our focus is on ourselves.”
In spite of impending weather issues, fans came out in droves as the Red Stars were meeting Seattle for their only Chicago visit this season. Rain started to fall early in the first half and continually picked up until a heavy blanket was coming down entering halftime. It slowed again and came to a stop to start the second half as both teams enjoyed unusually cool July weather for the remainder of the match.
Chicago came out on the attack from the kickoff and put heavy pressure on Seattle. It paid off early when Johnston released a long ball from her backline position and found Tancredi making a run towards goal. Tancredi was able to run the ball down and take a one touched volley shot from the corner of the box that sailed over Reign keeper Hope Solo. Shortly after, Julianne Sitch found Christen Press with a through-ball. Press approached Solo for a 1v1, but Solo was able to push her shot out of play.
Seattle patiently worked the ball around the midfield as halftime approached and found a breakthrough with Nahomi Kawasumi on the right side of the field who broke through to the endline before defender Abby Erceg slid through the ball for the save and to keep a 1-0 lead heading into the half.
Seattle came out strong to start the second half and the Red Stars would increase their physical play in an effort to hold onto a narrow lead. The Reign would have better looks on goal during this half, and especially towards the end of the game, but the Red Stars put up a fortress on goal to secure their first victory over Seattle this season, after suffering a 3-1 loss in Seattle on June 7. It was also a great morale victory for the Red Stars who tied Portland just 4 days prior.
“It’s a good result,” said Head Coach Rory Dames. “Like I said after Thursday’s match: we have been knocking on the door and realizing we haven’t won in awhile, but we haven’t been bad.”
The Red Stars remain home for their third match here in 2 weeks with the final match of the Portland series on Thursday, July 17 at 7 p.m. Then it’s a final trip to Seattle on July 20 and a return home on July 26 to meet Houston Dash. For tickets, visit chicagoredstars.com/tickets/ or call 773-697-8699.