Chicago Red Stars Defeat North Carolina Courage 3-1
The Chicago Red Stars defeat the North Carolina Courage 3-1. Photo: www.twitter.com/ChiRedStarsPR

Chicago Red Stars Defeat North Carolina Courage 3-1

In a rematch of the opening game of the 2019 season, the home team came out victorious, ending the defending champions' fifteen game undefeated streak.

jessicaaguann
Jessica Guan

The Chicago Red Stars handed the North Carolina Courage their first loss of the season, preventing them from tying the league record for the longest undefeated streak in the regular season.

Red Stars score two in first half

The Red Stars took the lead through their star player Samantha Kerr in the first half. Then, the Courage's lethal forward Lynn Williams leveled the game before Michele Vasconcelos earned the lead for her team which they would not give up.

Early in the match, however, the Courage had a great chance to find a goal. Midfielder Kristen Hamilton played a through ball to Brazilian teammate Debinha who was sprinting toward the goal. Having beaten her defender, she took a shot saved by Red Stars goalkeeper Emily Boyd.

Things opened up for the Red Stars three minutes later via a combination play between the incredible duo of Kerr and Japanese international Yuki Nagasato. Captain Vanessa DiBernardo found Nagasato with a through ball, and Nagasato played the ball to Kerr who slipped a shot past Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland.

The Courage equalized in the 33rd minute. Midfielder McCall Zerboni laid the ball for defender Merritt Mathias just outside the box. Mathias shook off her defender with some great footwork and crossed the ball toward the goal for Williams to one-time into the net.

Just a few minutes later, the Red Stars retook the lead through Vasconcelos. Kerr headed the ball to her twenty yards away from goal, and she managed to find the space to slot the ball past Rowland with four Courage players near her.

In stoppage time of the opening half, after a corner kick, there was some chaos in front of Chicago's goal, including a shot that hit the post. However, nothing came out of it for the Courage, so the Red Stars found themselves on top during the intermission.

Michele Vasconcelos scored for the Red Stars in the 40th minute. Photo: www.twitter.com/thenccourage

Kerr claims brace in second half

In the 48th minute, Kerr again played Vasconcelos through on goal, but this time her shot hit the inside of the post and bounced out. In the 61st minute, it was Kerr who had only Rowland to beat, but this time Rowland was up to the task by coming out to prevent Kerr from getting to the ball. 

The Red Stars defense were called into action a few times. In the 63rd minute, center back Katie Naughton stopped a Courage attack with a perfectly timed slide tackle. Ten minutes later, the Courage played the ball into the box from a set piece. Some miscommunication in the Red Stars defense allowed Debinha to put a header on target, but Boyd made the stop.

In the final minute of regulation time, Red Stars substitute Brook Elby was also denied by the post from close range. However, in stoppage time, Kerr crushed any hopes the Courage had of preserving their unbeaten streak. Taking on two defenders, she cut the ball to her right and drilled a shot into the net. Her brace resulted in the Courage's first defeat in any competition in nearly one year.

The Chicago Red Stars (2-1-2) travel to Houston next Sunday, and the North Carolina Courage (2-1-2) host the Utah Royals FC​​​​​​ the same day.

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