Red Stars advance to final
The Red Stars held on to beat Sky Blue FC 3-2 on Wednesday night at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah to advance to the NWSL Challenge Cup title game.
The Red Stars will face the Houston Dash, who beat the Portland Thorns 1-0 in the first semifinal match Wednesday, in the championship game at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. The game will be broadcast live on CBS.
The Red Stars struck early with goals by Bianca St. Georges in the eighth minute and Rachel Hill in the 11th.
Savannah McCaskill’s goal (assisted by St. Georges) from the center of the box in the 60th minute put the Red Stars up 3-0 before Sky Blue FC staged a late second-half rally.
Evelyne Viens trimmed the lead to 3-1 with a header from close range in the 72nd minute. The Sky Blue FC got some help in the 77th minute when Red Stars defender Julie Ertz tipped in a goal past goalie Alyssa Naeher in her own end.
In the first semifinal match, Rachel Daly had the lone goal with a header in the 69th minute to lift the Dash.
The Dash had never been to the playoffs in seven years in the NWSL.
Nichelle Prince broke away in a sprint toward Portland’s goal in the opening half but she was caught by defender Emily Menges. Daly had the lone shot on goal for the Dash in the scoreless half.
Prince had another great opportunity in the 62nd minute but Portland goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom punched it away.
Daly finally broke through with her rebound goal that bounced off Eckerstom’s back and into the net. It was her third goal of the tournament.
“I thought we played really well collectively. And it’s nice to score a goal in open play and not have to rely on penalty shootouts,” Dash coach James Clarkson said. “So, very happy, but all the praise and everything goes to the players because they were magnificent.”
The Red Stars’ Bianca St. Georges celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in the eighth minute Wednesday against Sky Blue FC.