Photo Credit: Daniel Bartel/ISI Photos
CHICAGO, Ill (Sept 24, 2016) – The Chicago Red Stars (9-5-6, 33 pts) defeated the Washington Spirit (12-5-3, 39 pts) 3-1 at Toyota Park in Chicago in the final regular season match for both teams. An early second half goal from Crystal Dunn was not enough to overcome the Chicago goals scored by Christen Press, Cara Walls, and Sofia Huerta. Although the Spirit is not out of contention for the NWSL Shield (awarded to the team with the best regular season record), the team will have to wait for the result of the Portland Thorns match tomorrow night.
Press opened the scoring early in the 6th minute when she made a wide open run down the right flank, took a signature cut back around Estelle Johnson, and shot over the heads of both Caprice Dydasco and Kelsey Wys into the top left hand corner of the net.
The Red Stars doubled its lead in the 26th minute when Huerta wove through the Spirit defense before passing the ball off to Walls. The forward drilled a low shot past Wys into the left hand side of the net to score her first goal of the season.
The second half got off to a flying start as teams traded goals within the first two minutes of the half. First, in the 46th minute, Huerta made a run through defenders down the right side before turning and sending in a cross which sailed over Wys and into the back of the net.
Seconds later, Dunn stormed right back with a goal of her own in the 47th minute. Dunn took a low driven shot from just outside the 18 which skipped past Chicago’s goalkeeper Michele Dalton’s outstretched right hand.
In the 81st minute, Argentinean forward Estefania Banini made her return from injury one month to the day after having an arthroscopy on her left knee. Banini’s return bodes well for the Spirit heading into the playoffs.
This win for the Red Stars clinches Chicago third place in the NWSL Standings, and the team will play the second place team in the NWSL semifinals next weekend. The Spirit now awaits the result of the Portland Thorns vs Sky Blue FC match tomorrow to learn whether it will finish first or second in the league. A win or a draw from Portland would give the NWSL Shield to the Thorns; a Portland loss would give the Shield to the Spirit.
The Spirit will return to the Maryland SoccerPlex on Friday, September 30 at 8 p.m. for an NWSL semifinal which will be first home playoff match in franchise history. Depending on the results from tomorrow’s NWSL matches, the Spirit’s semifinal will be either a quick rematch against Chicago Red Stars or a clash with the Western New York Flash. For tickets, fans can visit tickets.washingtonspirit.com.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Chicago Red Stars vs. Washington Spirit
Date: September 24, 2016
Venue: Toyota Park
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Weather: Clear, 72
Washington Spirit Lineup: 18- Kelsey Wys; 3- Caprice Dydasco, 5 – Whitney Church, 11- Ali Krieger, 24- Estelle Johnson; 7- Christine Nairn, 15- Joanna Lohman (10 – Estefania Banini, 81′), 23- Tori Huster; 8 – Diana Matheson (20 – Cheyna Williams, 60′), 12 – Katie Stengel (14 – Francisca Ordega, 60′), 19 – Crystal Dunn
Subs not used: 1- Stephanie Labbé, 4- Megan Oyster, 27 – Line Sigvardsen Jensen, 22 – Alyssa Kleiner
Head coach: Jim Gabarra
Chicago Red Stars Lineup: 18- Michele Dalton; 3- Arin Gilliland, 8 – Julie Johnston, 16- Sam Johnson, 6- Casey Short; 10- Vanessa Dibernardo (5- Katie Naughton, 88′), 24- Danielle Colaprico, 7- Taylor Comeau (4- Alyssa Mautz, 67′); 11- Sofia Huerta, 23 – Christen Press, 12 – Cara Walls (2-Jen Hoy, 80′)
Subs not used: 14- Sarah Gorden, 15- Courtney Raetzman, 1 – Alyssa Naeher, 13- Amanda Da Costa
Head Coach: Rory Dames
|Chicago Red Stars||2||1||3|
|1||6||Chicago||Christen Press||Vanessa DiBernardo|
Stats Summary: CHI/WAS
Shots on Goal: 8/4
Corner Kicks: 3/4
Referee: Matthew Franz
Assistant Referees: Adrienne McDonald, Maggie Short
Fourth Official: Edgar Osorio