The Chicago Red Stars (3-2-1, 10 points) stunned the North Carolina Courage (4-2-0, 12 points), 3-1, on Sunday afternoon at Sahlen’s Stadium in Cary, North Carolina. The Red Stars saw three first-half goals from Christen Press, Sofia Huerta, and Vanessa DiBernardo to lock in their victory against the first-place Courage. Lynn Williams scored one for the Courage in the second half, but it was not enough points on the day.
The Courage, who saw their only loss of the season come last week against Orlando, was looking to bounce back coming into today’s game. Chicago, on the other hand, had a hard-fought battle that resulted in a draw last weekend and were also in pursuit of three points. Thanks to a strong first half, the Red Stars were able to win the day.
The first chance of the game came in the third minute as Chicago earned a free kick about 40 yards out. Twenty-four year old Danielle Colaprico stepped up and lofted a ball into the box. Press saw a clean look after a deflection, but Courage goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo was able to easily deal with it. Only seconds later, the attacking threat was then on the other side of the field as Lynn Williams was able to get down the left side of the field and drive one across the six, but no one was there to finish for the Courage.
One minute later, Press lobbed one into Colaprico who was back in behind the defense, but her touch didn’t allow her to get a shot off so D’Angelo was able to easily corral it.
In the 10th minute, Chicago goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was forced to make a sliding save as she came out to deny Debinha who was running onto a through ball into the box.
Another great chance for Chicago came in the 11th minute when Press took the ball from the left side of the pitch and came towards the box beating four defenders in her way. Her shot, however was easily dealt with by D’Angelo.
In the 19th minute, Chicago midfielder Alyssa Mautz got a shot off inside the box after a McCall Zerboni give away in a dangerous position. D’Angelo was again able to make the save.
The first goal of the game came in the 28th minute after Press was taken down in the box by D’Angelo. Press stepped up to take her own penalty kick and buried it into the back of the net to score her second goal of the season and put Chicago up 1-0.
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) May 21, 2017
Chicago doubled the lead in the 37th minute as Press served a ball into Sofia Huerta in the box. Huerta settled the ball, used a step over move, and launched a bent ball into the upper corner to lock in the goal for the Red Stars and put them up 2-0.
— NWSL (@NWSL) May 21, 2017
Just minutes later, Chicago had an open look to go up 3-0 as Julie Ertz intercepted a ball and fed Vanessa DiBernardo inside the box. DiBernardo’s low far post shot was denied by the post.
In the 45th minute, DiBernardo saw another chance and this time capitalized as she took one shot to put a deflection in the back of the net and put the Red Stars up 3-0. Chicago took the lead into the half time break with an edge not only in goals, but overwhelmingly in shots, too, as they out shot the Courage 10-2 in the first 45 minutes.
— NWSL (@NWSL) May 21, 2017
The Courage came out flying to start off the second half as Jess McDonald had a chance inside 20 seconds. A few minutes later Sam Mewis took a shot from 20 yards out, but it went high over the cross bar. The Courage shifted to a four-player backline, after playing with only three defenders in the first half. Jess McDonald, the all-time league leading goalscorer, shifted up top moving away from the defensive position she was in during the first half to give the Courage more attacking options.
Back and forth play continued through the first 10 minutes of the second half. The Courage continued to play balls in the box but the Red Stars defense remained tight as they denied ball after ball.
In the 55th minute, a ball from Jaelene Hinkle to Lynn Williams pulled one back for the Courage as they were finally able to break through the Chicago backline. Williams was able to chest the ball down and finish it past Naeher to score her second goal of the season.
— NWSL (@NWSL) May 21, 2017
The Courage continued to press forward with their newfound momentum. In the 57th minute, Naeher made a tremendous save off a Debinha shot that was low and to the corner to preserve the two-goal lead. Naeher was then forced into another save in the 70th minute as rookie Ashley Hatch put one on target after corralling a loose ball after a few deflections.
Press got another chance in the 72nd minute, but D’Angelo was able to grab it off her feet this time. Seconds later, Williams drove end line and played one to McDonald at the top of the box. McDonald put it just wide.
As minutes started to wind down, the Courage continued to pressure the Chicago back line. At the opposite end of the field, Press had another good look as she was able to beat three defenders and rocket one right at D’Angelo.
The last chance of the game came in the 95th minute off a Dahlkemper corner that Mewis headed high over the cross bar. After five minutes of stoppage time, the whistle blew and the Red Stars secured the 3-1 win.
Next up for the Courage is a mid-week game against Sky Blue on Wednesday night before competing in the second leg of the home-and-home series, where they will travel to Toyota Park to take on Chicago for the second consecutive weekend on Sunday, May 28.
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