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Ertz header rallies Red Stars past Courage, back into 3rd place

The Red Stars remained kryptonite for the Courage, snapping their home losing skid with a hard-fought, 2-1 victory over the Shield leaders on Sunday at Toyota Park. Julie Ertz converted the game-winner in the 84th minute to give the Red Stars their first 10-win season and returned them to third place. The Red Stars are now 5 points clear of the Reign with 3 matches to play in their quest for a third consecutive playoff appearance.

The Courage got in front after 15 minutes on a goal by reigning MVP and golden boot winner Lynn Williams. A short pass by Alyssa Naeher went to Christen Press who was dispossessed by McCall Zerboni. The touch went right to Jess McDonald who found Wililams reading the play well and making a run on the right side. Naeher came out to challenge but didn’t get to the ball and Williams beat her with a single touch.

The equalizer came in the 52nd minute and looked much like the opening goal. First Ertz stuck a foot in and knocked the ball away from Sam Mewis. Press got on it and drew several Courage including Mewis and goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland. Press was able to slip the ball out for a cross to Yuki Nagasato. The only thing more open than Nagasato was the near post where she easily scored her first NWSL goal.

The Red Stars introduced Morgan Brian in the 64th minute and 20 minutes later, Ertz finished Nagasato’s cross to make it 2-1. Ertz had won the ball in the defensive midfield to turn possession in the Red Stars’ favor. The Courage were never able to play the ball out again before the goal.

The Red Stars (10-6-5, 35 pts) won their second game in a row and will visit Midwest rival FC Kansas City on Saturday. A playoff berth is within reach if they win an the Reign lose or draw in Orlando. The Courage (14-6-0, 42 pts) are in the playoffs but failed to secure a home semifinal after their third loss in as many matches this season to the Red Stars. Their next chance is Saturday night at home against the Dash.

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