Lisle, IL – Despite plenty of opportunities, the Red Stars were unable to connect on a goal in this afternoon’s matchup with the visiting Houston Dash as both teams ended 0-0 in their final meet-up of the year.
“We have a lot of young players,” said Head Coach Rory Dames. “A few of the players that have experience stepped up and took chances, like the play that Christen (Press) made there at the end. All in all we will take the point and keep moving forward.”
The Red Stars got the better of the looks during the match that was otherwise relatively even. They missed their golden chance in the 39th minute when midfielder Zakiya Bywaters worked through multiple defenders to earn her way to the endline for a cross. She placed a low ball perfectly dead-center of the goal and found fellow midfielder Emily Van Egmond, but Van Egmond’s touch put the ball over the crossbar.
The teams entered halftime on a 0-0 draw as the afternoon began to heat up in Lisle. Temperatures hit 84 degrees as the second half kicked off and Chicago started the half like a team on a mission. They worked the ball to endline and earned several crosses but Houston goalkeeper Erin McLeod was up to task, pulling the opportunities out of the air. In the 52nd minute, Red Stars New Zealand defender Abby Erceg nearly found her first goal of the year with a low, diving header off a corner kick that was deflected from the goalline by Houston’s defense.
Houston’s best chance came off a Red Stars foul by Erceg on the edge of the 18-yard box in the 61st minute that Dash forward Stephanie Ochs dipped under the crossbar. Chicago keeper Karina LeBlanc tipped it over the bar to keep Houston off the boards.
In the 65th minute, Christen Press played a great through-ball to defender Julie Johnston who was breaking towards goal. She got bumped, but stayed on her feet to get a shot off. It was deflected wide and landed at the feet of Bywaters, but she wasn’t able to get much on the follow-up shot.
With the score tied entering stoppage time, Press nearly took the game into her own hands when she blasted a 20-yard shot that beat McLeod, but unfortunately did not beat the crossbar. Her shot nailed the bottom of the bar and bounced downward before ricocheting back out into the field of play. It looked as if Press was the hero of the day, but no whistle meant no goal and the game ended scoreless. Red Stars keeper LeBlanc earned her 5th shutout of the season having not allowed a goal on the day.
“We’ve accepted that we got the tie and we got a point at least,” said defender Julie Johnston. “We go into every game knowing we need the three points so I think we will really focus on making those chances.”
The Red Stars take to the road for their final away match of the season next Saturday, August 2. Washington has already taken the series winning the two teams’ first match-ups, but the Red Stars need crucial points to stay in the playoffs hunt. Following that is a 3-game homestand to end the season on August 9, 13 and 16. For tickets, visit chicagoredstars.com/tickets/ or call 773-697-8699.