Crucial away win features Comeau’s first pro goal, Dalton’s first shutout of 2016
Orlando, Fla. – The Chicago Red Stars snapped a three-game losing streak in National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) play on Saturday night, courtesy of a crucial 1-0 away win over expansion side Orlando Pride. Head Coach Rory Dames’ squad bagged the hard-fought victory thanks to Taylor Comeau’s first ever goal as a professional and a spirited team performance that saw goalkeeper Michele Dalton earn her first shutout of the 2016 campaign.
After an uneventful opening 22 minutes, Chicago grabbed the lead on the first clear-cut chance of the match. Attacker Sofia Huerta swung in a beautiful cross from the right that found the head of Comeau, who rose above everyone and powered the ball inside the near post for her first ever NWSL strike. The visitors came within inches of doubling their lead 15 minutes later, Vanessa DiBernardo advancing to the top of the box and hitting an intelligent left-footed shot that seemed to find its way inside the same upright but instead bounced off and away.
Four minutes from first-half regulation time, the Red Stars then had another excellent chance to make it two, as Jen Hoy flew down the left and to the byline before laying the ball off to fellow forward Cara Walls, who leaned back on her wide-open effort and sent the ball flying well over the bar. It would be the final look of the first half.
Walls again wished she had done better on a 57th-minute through-ball by Comeau. In one-on-one, the Wisconsin native took a disappointing first touch, allowing recently acquired Pride shot-stopper Savage to collect. Hosts Orlando subsequently managed to swing the momentum in their favor, starting with a long free-kick by Kristen Edmonds seven minutes later that was fiercely contested inside the box before falling to the feet of substitute Dani Weatherholt, whose volleyed attempt appeared to take a couple of deflections and was tipped around the left upright by Chicago netminder Michele Dalton.
Pride captain Kaylyn Kyle came even closer to leveling the match on the immediate corner kick, which was swung in by Edmonds and headed toward goal by the Canada international, only to be nodded off the line by Arin Gilliland. The outside back’s heroics saved a sure tally and sent the ball straight into the breadbasket of Dalton. With just over 15 minutes left to play, the two teams then left the field for a lightening delay that would last for over and hour.
The interruption came at an opportune time for Chicago, which seemed refreshed upon reappearing from the locker room and should have sealed the deal in the 86th minute. Walls received the ball deep inside the opposition half and did well to slide it through to streaking substitute Alyssa Mautz, who sprinted in one-on-one, only to overhit her attempted finish past the onrushing Savage and send the ball well over the frame.
The Red Stars were very nearly punished for the missed opportunity mere moments later, Jasmyne Spencer flicking the ball on to another substitute, Christine Burkenroad, who finished past helpless goalkeeper Dalton but was called back for offside. Having survived the late scare, Dalton and company did not allow any close looks in the waning minutes of the match and held on for a crucial three points.
The Red Stars look to make it consecutive wins when they return home on July 23 for a highly anticipated Pride Night clash with Houston Dash. Tickets for the 2016 NWSL campaign at Toyota Park in Bridgeview may be purchased by clicking here or by calling 773-697-8699.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Chicago Red Stars at Orlando Pride 1-0
Date: July 16, 2016
Venue: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla.
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
CHI – Taylor Comeau 23’ (Vanessa DiBernardo)
ORL: 25-Kaitlyn Savage Goalkeeper; 2-Camille Levin Right Back, 6-Kaylyn Kyle Center Back (capt.), 3-Toni Pressley Center Back, 26-Samantha Witteman Left Back; 18-Maddy Evans Right Midfielder, 12-Kristen Edmonds Midfielder, 14-Becky Edwards Left Midfielder (17-Dani Weatherholt Substitute 59’); 23-Jasmyn Spencer Forward, 8-Sarah Hagen Forward (11-Christina Burkenroad Substitute 68’), 4-Jamia Fields Forward (16- Leah Fortune Substitute 68’)
Subs not used: 22-Megan Dorsey Goalkeeper, 20-Kim Reynolds Substitute, 24-Sierra Lelli Substitute, 15-Allie Wisner Substitute
Head Coach: Tom Sermanni
CHI: 18-Michele Dalton Goalkeeper; 3-Arin Gilliland Right Back, 5-Katie Naughton Center Back, 16-Samantha Johnson Center Back, 6-Casey Short Left Back; 11-Sofia Huerta Right Midfielder, 24-Danielle Colaprico Midfielder, 10-Vanessa DiBernardo Midfielder (capt.), 7-Taylor Comeau Left Midfielder; 2-Jen Hoy Forward (4-Alyssa Mautz Substitute 72’), 12-Cara Walls Forward (15-Courtney Raetzman Substitute 91+)
Subs not used: 33-Brianna Smallidge Goalkeeper, 14-Sarah Gorden Substitute, 21-Rebekah Roller Substitute, 34-Mary Luba Substitute, 20-Jannelle Flaws Substitute
Head Coach: Rory Dames
Stats Summary: ORL / CHI
Shots: 6 / 12
Shots on Goal: 4 / 8
Saves: 7 / 3
Corner Kicks: 4 / 2
Fouls: 6 / 15
Offside: 3 / 3
CHI – Arin Gilliland (yellow card; reckless foul) 44’
ORL – Maddy Evans (yellow card; reckless foul) 94+
Referee: Victor Rivas
Assistant Referee 1: Janessa Gunn
Assistant Referee 2: Sean Reagan
Fourth Official: Gary Gutierrez