Red Stars ad­vance to fi­nal

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS -

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.

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