Brittany Taylor’s 89th minute volley snatched a point for the Western New York Flash who completed a 2-0-2 road swing with a 2-2 draw away to the Chicago Red Stars. The home side was clearly better on the night and looked as if they would carry their 2-1 halftime lead all the way to full-time until Alex Sahlen sent a long, probing ball into the 18-yard box that Taylor was able to finish when Red Stars goalkeeper Taylor Vancil wandered off her line without impacting the play.
The Flash (5-2-3, 18 points) extended their overall unbeaten streak to 7 games since opening the season 0-2-1. The Red Stars (3-5-3, 12 points) joined the Breakers on a dozen points but trail on goal difference and concede a game in hand.
The Red Stars broke on top right out of the gate. Winning possession along the left sideline they worked it along to Inka Grings and eventually Lori Chalupny who caught Adrianna Franch off her line and chipped it over the rookie keeper. The initial shot hit the crossbar and Alyssa Mautz followed it and headed the rebound into the goal. The 1st minute goal marks the earliest strike in NWSL.
The Flash leveled it in the 13th through some great work by Vicky DiMartino. Running onto a ball into space DiMartino first evaded Sonja Fuss’s tackle and sent in a cross that Rachel Quon cleared out of danger. Sticking with it DiMartino chased it down in the left corner and got off another cross. This one was greeted by Adriana who finished with her head to make it 1-1.
The action slowed down after that with the Flash backing off and allowing the Red Stars nearly unlimited possession along their back line. The home side did make its way forward on a number of occasions and after Leslie Osborne had one header off a corner saved by Franch, she made good on another chance in the 40th minute. Sneaking into the middle of the box Osborne headed Lori Chalupny’s corner up back to the bear post, up over Franch and in off the post.
The Red Stars continued to control possession in the 2nd half and had numerous chances to add to their lead while the Flash struggled to create chances. The Red Stars nearly converted on at least two other set pieces, and Mautz nearly had a second goal on a thru-ball only to have Franch deny her with a paw save. Later, Chalupny nearly drew a penalty kick when McCall Zerboni took her down but the foul was called just outside the area and Grings blasted the free kick just high.
The Flash were playing without Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd, Sam Kerr, and Jodi-Ann Robinson, and Aaran Lines has precious few options off the bench in his efforts to find a second goal. As it was a pair of defenders teamed up on the decisive strike. A Red Stars clearance went to Sahlen who played a typical, late-game ball into the area. Taylor got position on Taryn Hemmings and when Vancil came out to join the play it gave Taylor the space she needed as Hemmings collided back into her keeper.
The Flash road trip is over but they will have little time to rest with the Seattle Reign on their way to Rochester for a Sunday match. The Red Stars’ next match is also against the Reign, June 29 in the Emerald City.
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