The Red Stars (2-1-2) hosted the Courage (2-1-2), hoping to bounce back after a 1-0 loss to Houston last week. Coming into today, Chicago knew North Carolina would test their defense as the visitors ranked first in assists and second in goals entering play. Nevertheless, the Red Stars were the better team from start to finish, putting together their most complete effort of the young season.
Chicago was dangerous on the attack, finishing the day with 15 shots, eight of which were on target. It was an encouraging sign, to say the least, considering the Red Stars couldn’t generate much of anything on offense in their first four matches. But, if today’s game was any indication, the narrative has changed dramatically, with Chicago primed to go on a run and join Orlando at the top of the table.
Dominant First Half
The Red Stars came out with an abundance of pace and energy, placing consistent pressure on North Carolina’s backline. Within the first six minutes, they earned two corner kicks and generated multiple scoring opportunities. Rachel Hill, Kealia Watt, and Mallory Pugh were particularly impressive as they were able to find plenty of space, giving North Carolina fits with their movement.
In the 28th minute, the Red Stars received their fourth corner kick and took advantage of the opportunity when Hill scored her first goal of the season. Watt continued her strong half, playing with her back to the net and creating opportunities for her teammates. The Red Stars outshot the Courage 13-2 with a 68% passing accuracy and, although Chicago went into the locker room with a 1-0 lead, it could have been much worse for the Courage.
Chicago Won’t Budge
Just as they did to start the game, the Red Stars hit the ground running in the second half. In the 50th minute, Pugh should have slotted one home off a sloppy giveaway by North Carolina’s defense but Courage keeper, Casey Murphy, denied yet another prime scoring opportunity. A few minutes later, Lynn Williams nearly tied it for the visitors with a header at the back post, which Alyssa Naeher turned away.
With 30 minutes remaining, North Carolina began to find their groove, possessing the ball 56% of the time, but had very little to show for it. The Red Stars used strategic substitutions to protect their lead, switching from three up front to only two attackers. The Courage were visibly frustrated, having no answer for Chicago’s stifling midfield play, as the home team won by a final of 1-0.
Woman of the Match
Despite Hill being the lone goal scorer, the award goes to Watt. She played 82 minutes, wreaking havoc in North Carolina’s half with her playmaking ability.
On a side note, Murphy was brilliant for the Courage and would have been the obvious choice if her team was able to mount a comeback.
What’s Next On Tap
The Red Stars (2-1-2) welcome Washington (2-1-1) to SeatGeek Stadium on June 19. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM CDT on Twitch. As always, you can check out the latest Red Stars content, articles, and more at Second City On Tap.