Press, Chicago equalize for draw against Spirit
Red Stars keep unbeaten streak alive in Week 9
Christen Press converted a second-half corner kick for the Chicago Red Stars to salvage the draw at home. (Photo credit: Daniel Bartel/
Christen Press converted a second-half corner kick for the Chicago Red Stars to salvage the draw at home. (Photo credit: Daniel Bartel/

By Meg Linehan

Christen Press and the Chicago Red Stars salvaged a draw against the Washington Spirit at home thanks to a penalty kick late in the second half. The Spirit looked on the verge of their first win on the road this season, but Press converted the penalty to even things up at 1–1, much to the delight of the 3,189 fans at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois.

The Spirit held an advantage most of the match thanks to forward Francisca Ordega’s goal in the 42nd minute. Forward Cheyna Williams sent a long pass forward for Ordega, who held off two Chicago defenders to slip it past Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. The first half strike was Ordega’s third goal of the season.

Ordega said Lifetime after the game that the point on the road was a disappointment. “I think we let the opportunity slip away because we were hoping to win. We worked really hard for this, and as you can see, we played really well. We did our best, but we couldn’t get the result we wanted.”

Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé nearly kept the clean sheet on Saturday, making three saves, including one on Chicago midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo in the 51st minute.

Despite missing key players in the starting XI thanks to injuries — including forward Mallory Pugh and midfielder Tori Huster — the Spirit did enjoy the return of defender Caprice Dydasco for her first appearance of the 2017 season during the second half.

As Washington head coach Jim Gabarra said on Lifetime at the half, the result on the road shows progress for his team. “It’s a credit to the back end of our roster, and players who are getting the opportunity to show they can do it in this league. We’re without five starters who we thought would be in our line up when I put the roster together. I couldn’t be happier. I think we’re pulling together as a team. This is one of the toughest places in the league to play, and I think we’re giving them some problems.”

While the Spirit may have given the Red Stars some problems, Chicago maintained their edge in possession and shots on goal and looked to equalize in the second half. Christen Press’s penalty kick ensured the Red Stars stayed unbeaten at home this season, and stretches their six-game streak without a loss.

Chicago midfielder Julie Ertz said on Lifetime after the game that there were positives along with the point at home. “When you’re down a goal to show that you have resilience is huge in the beginning of the season, knowing that it could happen at the end of the season as well. But all in all, we got a tie and we’re a little disappointed. We love getting our wins, especially at home.”

Red Stars defender Casey Short discussed the second-half turnaround on Lifetime after the game, saying that she and team pushed through some tiredness. “I think it was our mentality. The first half, we didn’t do what we needed to do. Second half, we came out, we put a few passes together and broke some lines and were successful.”

Red Stars midfielder Taylor Comeau left the match with an injury in the 75th minute after a collision with Spirit midfielder Kristie Mewis. Comeau was immediately evaluated by the Red Stars’ team doctor, and was subsequently transported to a local hospital for chest x-rays as a precaution.

The Red Stars will hope to keep their streak alive at Toyota Park next week when they face Sky Blue FC on Sunday, June 25 while the Spirit will host the Portland Thorns on Saturday, June 24.

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