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OCT 27
3:30 PM ET
ESPN
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Red Stars clinch the final playoff spot with 5-0 win over Sky Blue FC
Alyssa Mautz, Sam Kerr, Rosie White and Michele Vasconcelos scored for the Red Stars
Alyssa Mautz scored her fourth and fifth goals of the season. (Photo credit: isiphotos.com)
Alyssa Mautz scored her fourth and fifth goals of the season. (Photo credit: isiphotos.com)

The Chicago Red Stars punched their ticket to the 2018 NWSL playoffs with a 5-0 victory over Sky Blue FC at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. Alyssa Mautz led the way for her team — scoring twice and helping the Red Stars secure their postseason berth. It’s the fourth consecutive postseason appearance for the Red Stars.

Sam Kerr, Rosie White and Michele Vasconcelos also scored for the Red Stars in their final regular season home game.

The Red Stars are now on a seven-game unbeaten streak (4-0-3) and head into their final match of the season at 9-4-10 overall with 37 points. This win keeps Rory Dames’ squad in the running for the No. 3 seed – currently held by Portland Thorns FC with 39 points. Tuesday’s win also knocked Utah Royals FC from playoff contention.

Sky Blue FC played their second game in three days and remain in search of their first win of the season at stay in last place in the standings at 0-17-6.

Mautz entered Wednesday’s match with three goals and three assists on the season and now trails just Sam Kerr (14 goals) on her team for goals this season — Mautz now has five.

The midfielder opened up the scoring on the night in the 18th minute. Arin Gilliland made a long, lofted cross from the left side of the pitch into the path of Mautz crashing the far post. Mautz headed it home to make it 1-0.

Usually for the Red Stars, it’s the usual Yuki Nagasato and Sam Kerr combination play that opens up the scoring gates, but Tuesday night it was all about the Gilliland and Mautz show. Gilliland played in Mautz again to start the second half for her second of the night in the 47th minute. This time Gilliland’s service required Mautz to dive and finish near post.

Gilliland finished the match with two assists, eight crosses and a game-high 87 touches.

It wouldn’t be right if Kerr didn’t finish on the night. Kerr got one of her own in the 64th minute following strong individual work from Brooke Elby in the midfield, eventually leading into a near post service to Kerr’s head. Kerr headed in her 15th goal of the season and currently leads the Golden Boot race. Kerr finished the match with eight shots, one assist and three key passes.

Sky Blue tried to hold on throughout the match and had moments of defensive brilliance from goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan and center back Mandy Freeman. In the 76th minute, Kerr had a breakaway chance and slipped in Nagasato who took a wide-open shot, but Sheridan made a leaping one-handed save to deny Nagasato her first goal of the night.

Before Kerr’s goal, Freeman made a highlight-worthy sliding goal-line clearance to deny Nagasato a chance to tap one past Red Stars goalkeeper Emily Boyd. Freeman made two blocks and three clearances on the night and Sheridan made five saves.

In the 79th minute, Rosie White made her 10th appearance and subbed in for Nagasato. Practically upon entering the pitch, White managed to get in behind Sky Blue’s backline and finish off her first goal of the season. White tapped one in past Sheridan after Kerr chested her the ball at the top of the box.

The Red Stars weren’t done just yet and sealed the game at 5-0 thanks to a Michele Vasconcelos finish in the 97th minute. This was Vasconcelos’ first goal of her NWSL career.

The Red Stars held the better of the possession at 58.8% to Sky Blue’s 41.2%. In just her second start in net for the Red Stars, Boyd earned her second clean sheet and made one save.

Sky Blue’s finale will be against the Orlando Pride on Saturday, and Chicago’s last regular season match will be on the road against Utah Royals FC on Saturday.

 

This story will be updated.

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