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Schmidt, Mautz score late in SBFC-Chicago draw

Sky Blue FC scored late but conceded in stoppage time to draw Chicago 1-1. (Photo copyright Howard C. Smith)

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Sky Blue FC and the Chicago Red Stars traded late goals to finish in a 1-1 draw on a damp Wednesday night at Yurcak Field. The match was delayed a few minutes at the start when the lightning horn went off. Torrential rain followed, but things were dry for kickoff and the teams showed little sign of being impacted by the rain.

After 88 minutes of stalemate, Sophie Schmidt connected on a header off a cross by Kendall Johnson and gave Sky Blue a 1-0 lead. But Alyssa Mautz stole a point back for the visitors when she looped a forgotten corner kick over Brittany Cameron to knot the match in stoppage time.

“I’m not sure how the ball goes that high in the air and then hits the ground,” Sky Blue coach Jim Gabarra said. “It was just a lack of concentration…To give away a corner at the end there, you probably shouldn’t even do that.”

The Red Stars created more chances in the opening half but even at that neither team was particularly close to scoring. The talking point of the first 45 minutes was an aggressive challenge by Red Stars goalkeeper Erin McLeod on Lisa De Vanna. The Sky Blue side clearly thought a red card was warranted, but there was no foul of any kind called on the play.

“Shocking how it’s not even a foul,” Gabarra said. “I can understand if the ref doesn’t see it but the (assistant referee) must have been looking the other way.”

Kelley O’Hara started the game on the bench thanks to a calf strain but replaced Monica Ocampo after the break and was instrumental in helping Sky Blue find themselves on the front foot as the match drew near its conclusion.

“The last 15 minutes, the seven-day rest versus the three-day rest I think started to show a little bit,” Red Stars coach Rory Dames said. Taryn Hemmings and Jackie Santacaterina were both taken off the field after cramping which altered Dames’ vision of how things would play out late. “It wasn’t exactly what we had planned going into the game. We thought we would be able to get a little more attacking players on late to try to make a push at it.”

With Sky Blue starting to take control at 82 minutes, 18-year-old right back Caitlin Foord made an electrifying run, taking the ball down the right flank and cutting inside and through several Red Stars defenders before her shot hit the underside of the crossbar.

“It’s very unique that a player comes inside like that as a wide defender,” Gabarra said. “I think teams realize her pace and cut the outside off. She grew up as an attacking player so she’s certainly comfortable in those areas.”

Six minutes later Sky Blue finally found the goal when Johnson found Schmidt for what amounted to a simple redirect. It marked the third straight game Schmidt has scored.

“I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I remember it popped out and I saw Kendall was bouncing,” Schmidt said. “I tried to make sure I was onside and got a deflection.”

Schmidt also indicated that the equalizing goal bounced off her knee on its way to Mautz who lofted it over Cameron to send the Red Stars back to Chicago with their second point of the season.

“I think we earned the goal but I think we were a little fortunate in the way we got the goal,” Dames said. “That’s legitimately the first break we’ve got this year. It’s the first thing that’s gone our way. So we’ll take it.”

The Red Stars (0-2-2, 2 pts.) are still looking for their first win and will have their next shot at it Sunday at home against the Portland Thorns FC.

“We haven’t won a game, but we’ve been in every game,” Dames said. “And we’ve beat ourselves in the games. We’ve made some bad mistakes in the back that have led to goals at crucial moments.”

Sky Blue FC (2-1-1, 7 pts.) face a quick turnaround before hosting Seattle Reign FC at Yurcak on Saturday night.

Chicago Starting XI: McLeod, Quon, Hemmings, Moscato, Vandenbergh, Santacaterina, Sitch, Osborne, Chalupny, Fowlkes, Masar

Sky Blue Starting XI: Cameron, DeVanna, Foord, Freels, Goodson, Johnson, Makoski, Ocampo, Rampone (C), Schmidt, Adams

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