Allston, MA – After going down 0-1 in the first half after an 18th minute Breakers goal by Courtney Jones, the Red Stars turned on overdrive during a 13 minute span surrounding halftime en route to a 3-1 win over the Boston Breakers at Harvard Stadium Thursday night. It started with a Lori Chalupny header from Adriana Leon in the 44th, just before halftime. The second half picked up where they left off when Michelle Wenino went on the attack and scored an unassisted goal in the 52nd, then Jen Hoy from Samantha Johnson in the 57th to round out the evening’s scoring.
“I thought it was the best start that we’ve had to a game this season,” said Red Stars Head Coach Rory Dames. “It’s the first time we’ve gone down and you could feel the belief in the group that they were going to come back.”
It looked as if the Red Stars would go up with the first goal of the game in the 16th minute when Hoy broke through the Boston backline and found an easy short pass from the right side as Boston ‘keeper Alyssa Naeher rushed her. The ball nearly landed at the feet of Zakiya Bywaters but her sliding attempt was just inches short of connection. Just a few minutes later, Boston got on the attack with a one-two combo between Jazmine Reeves to Heather O’Reilly. Red Stars GK Karina LeBlanc blocked the first attempt but the ball rolled out to Courtney Jones who made no mistake in blasting away the rebound shot in the 18th minute.
The Red Stars had another great opportunity in the 31st minute when defender Wenino made a fantastic steal up-field. She played a short ball to Bywaters who chipped it to Chalupny rushing towards goal, but the captain was smothered on her shot attempt.
She would be the hero just before halftime however when the Red Stars put together great combination play to work the ball up the right sideline. Hoy continued to show her speed as she broke free of her defender and placed a high cross that lobbed across the face of the goal. Leon overpowered her defender to head the ball back across the goal. Chalupny was in an advantageous position near the center of the net and tapped the header in to tie the match 1-1 before heading into halftime.
The Red Stars would come out hot in the second half and earn the lead after a freekick by DiBernardo found the head of Wenino. Wenino’s shot deflected off the post and was bobbled in the box by Boston before Wenino’s leaping high kick put the ball in the back of the net in the 52nd minute.
“DiBernardo had an unbelievable freekick that came right to me and luckily after it hit the crossbar I was able to put in the rebound,” said Wenino of her first tally of the year. “We were putting a lot of pressure on them, so it was nice to get the go-ahead goal.”
In the 61st minute, just moments after she subbed into the match, Boston’s Nikki Washington received a long ball up the right side of the field. She played a quick ball across goal but LeBlanc dove out to make the save. It would be one of Boston’s best chances of the evening.
In the 67th minute, central defender Johnson had the vision to play a long ball out of the back to Hoy who was charging up field. Hoy one touched a lob ball from over her shoulder to beat Naeher, who had come off her line, putting the Red Stars up once and for all at 3-1.
Boston put heavy pressure on the final 10 minutes of the match, looking for additional goals, but the Red Stars defense held steady, as it has done all season and continued its streak of not allowing more than one goal per game.
“They were pushing and had more players forward towards the end of the match, but we try to stay calm and it’s helped us to remain solid in those situations,” stated Wenino.
The Red Stars remain in Boston for a rematch on Sunday set for 6:30 p.m. ET. Then will head back to the road for a game each in Houston and New Jersey. The next home game for the Red Stars will be on Wednesday, June 4th for a rematch versus the Washington Spirit. For tickets, visit chicagoredstars.com/tickets/ or call 773-697-8699.