Lisle, IL – On a scorching July afternoon, the Chicago Red Stars gave the home fans an epic display of perseverance, coming back from a 3-1 deficit and playing a woman down for the last 10 minutes to steal a point back from visiting KC. Kansas City’s goals were scored by Lauren Holiday and Erika Tymrak, along with an own-goal from the Red Stars, and Chicago’s goals were scored by Maribel Dominguez, Ella Masar, and Lori Chalupny.
“I’m proud of the fact that they fought back and did what they did today,” said Head Coach Rory Dames. “The team survives and competes because they depend on each other.”
The Red Stars started out with high pressure on the attack and spent much of the first 10 minutes in the Blues defensive end. But in the 10th minute, it would be FC Kansas City that came to life and got a solid look in front of goal, forcing goalkeeper Erin McLeod to dive off her line to thwart an attack.
The Red Stars earned their first corner kick in the 7th minute when Chalupny and defender Rachel Quon combined for some nifty play on the left side of the field, breaking Chalupny towards the endline for a cross that was blocked out of play.
In the 17th minute, KC’s Melissa Henderson received a great through-ball heading towards goal. Defender Taryn Hemmings was on the chase as McLeod came out of goal and made the save but her deflection bounced into the path of Holiday, who had an open net to slot in the game’s first goal. Shortly after, around the 25th minute, Merritt Mathias got a low, hard shot off that went past McLeod but tipped of the outside of the post.
Finally in the 41st minute, Red Stars midfielder Julianne Sitch worked a combination play with Mexican international Maribel Dominguez and Dominguez took the game into her own hands, taking a small touch and setting herself up for a 32 yard shot that she lobbed over Blues’ GK Nicole Barnhart. Unfortunately, the Red Stars equalizer was short lived. Just 2 minutes later, Blues midfielder Kristie Mewis blasted left-footed shot from the left side of the field that shot past the outstretched McLeod and launched off the crossbar right into the path of Hemmings, who had no chance of diverting the goal. With that goal, the game would head into halftime 2-1 in favor of KC.
The Red Stars started out on the attack again to begin the second half, but couldn’t find an early equalizer. They would use their first sub in the 60th minute, substituting Ella Masar for first-half goal-scorer Dominguez on the wing. Masar would nearly find her own goal in the 71st when she took a long-range shot that had to be topped over the crossbar by Barnhart, earning the Red Stars a corner kick. Sitch would take the kick and find the head of 68th minute substitute Jackie Santacaterina, who played in a shot that had to be cleared off the line by KC.
Kansas City nearly sealed off their win in the 82nd minute when Holiday received a ball in front of an open Red Stars net, but she sent the ball over the crossbar. Right back on the other end, Ella Masar broke towards the endline and laid the ball back to Sitch who fired an endline ball towards goal. Chalupny was in front of the goalkeeper and attempted to tip it over, but it was deflected back towards the outside of the box. Santacaterina would be there to shoot the rebound, and earn a corner kick.
While the Red Stars were pushing numbers up field looking for an equalizer, KC found a breakaway and earned a 3-on-1 with defender Hemmings. Holiday played a short ball to Erika Tymrak, who put KC on top 3-1. During the breakaway Hemmings would go down injured and have to leave the field. The Red Stars, having used all 3 of their substitutions, would play the rest of the match with just 10 players.
But just when it looked like the game was sealed, the Red Stars would not go down without a fight. They earned a free kick from a foul in the 90th minute and defender Sonja Fuss found the head of Ella Masar, who lobbed it over Barnhart and into the net to give Chicago signs of hope late in the game.
As the seconds of stoppage time were running out for the Red Stars, in true team fashion they battled to the end and on sheer hustle pulled off what looked like the impossible. Fuss played the ball back to McLeod who put a long ball up field that resulted in a 50/50 air ball that Santacaterina challenged for. Leslie Osborne made a sliding play to keep possession of the ball and tapped it to Adriana Leon who one-touched it towards goal. Masar was there to receive it and laid off a half-volley to the on-rushing Chalupny who made absolutely no mistake in blasting the ball into the net, and salvaging the point for the Red Stars.
“The confidence that we gain coming back against a great opponent like that is priceless,” mused the Red Stars captain after the match.
“Lori’s different,” Dames went on. “She’s a top 5 player in the league. There’s maybe 5-6 players in the league that could hit that shot, let alone in that time frame.”
The Red Stars are undefeated in their last three matches and will remain home for a match against Washington Spirit on Saturday, July 20, 6:00 p.m. CT, before taking to the west coast for a two-game swing against Seattle Reign and Portland Thorns. Tickets are available for the July 20th match by visiting chicagoredstars.com or calling 773-697-8699.