The Chicago Red Stars defeated FC Indiana in Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) Elite League action on Friday night, May 25, in South Bend, Ind. The 2-0 score equaled the two teams’ previous efforts in the Red Stars’ home opener in River Forest, Ill., on Sunday, May 20.
The Red Stars picked up a goal in each half, beginning with Lauren Fowlkes' strike assisted by Alyssa Mautz in the 6th minute. This was followed by a Lori Chalupnygoal assisted by Vanessa DiBernardo in the 64th. Jamie Forbes held the shutout in goal for Chicago.
The Red Stars started the match strong, in spite of some early physical challenges by the home team that set the tone of the first half of play. In the 6th minute,Michele Weissenhofer found Mautz making a run towards the end-line. With a perfectly placed pass, Mautz was able to take a touch towards the line and rocket a pass across the goal-face and onto the body of Red Stars forward Fowlkes, who pushed the ball into goal.
“It was good to come out and get an early goal,” remarked Red Stars’ Head CoachRory Dames. “But we still got caught too stagnant and didn’t get enough width in the game. When we brought on some fresh players in the second half, like Vanessa DiBernardo, it brought a little energy and we started to find more width and the game opened up a bit.”
After the early goal, the remainder of the first half was a choppy affair in which the Red Stars looked taken out of their element by the aggressive home-side. The Lionesses managed to get a look that almost evened the game in the 33rd minute, sending a ball towards the upper-90 corner, but a stretched out Jamie Forbes kept Indiana off the scoreboard heading into the half.
DiBernardo was a spark in the midfield for the Red Stars in the second half in her season debut, with her ability to needle passes through tight spaces in the Lionesses’ defense. “I’ve only had a few training sessions with the group, so I’m still trying to get to know everyone on the field,” she stated. “We’re still learning how to play with one another.
One player she had no trouble adjusting to is team captain Lori Chalupny, whose goal she assisted on in the 64th minute. DiBernardo sent a ball through to Chalupny who was positioned in a potential 1v1 challenge with the goalkeeper. As Chalupny leapt over the sliding body of FC Indiana’s Geraldine Saintilus, the ball managed to sneak its way underneath and back into the path of Chalupny for an easy slot-in, and a 2-0 lead.
“I thought all the players that came in really added something to the game,” remarked Chalupny. “We’ve got a couple younger players that have just returned to the team from college so it’s a work in progress as we get used to each other and develop our chemistry.”
The second half of the contest was a much sharper event overall with several solid scoring opportunities on both sides of the field. Each team’s goalkeeper came up big on multiple occasions making stretched-out diving saves off of close range shots. The crossbar also made several appearances, blocking scoring opportunities for each side.
Jackie Santacaterina, Red Stars defender who was out of the home opener with an injury, returned tonight for 90 minutes and commented on the large field of play. “The game was really stretched, which made it hard to read and we got caught at times in between positions. But it feels great to get back on the field with the team.”
“I’m definitely a little tired and sore after that match,” lamented Chalupny, who was on the receiving end of several hard challenges tonight. “Luckily we have over a week before we meet Boston, so we’ll be rested and ready for the next game.
With the win, the Red Stars move to 2-0-0 on the season, holding 4 goals and 2 shutouts between one home and one away match. The Lionesses fall to 0-4-0 after this series, along with previous matches against Boston and WNY.
Chicago: Jamie Forbes, Lauren Alkek (Allison Doyle 70’), Michelle Wenino, Sammy Scofield (Ashlee Elliott, 85’), Jackie Santacaterina, Jen Buczkowski, Julianne Sitch, Lori Chalupny (Alexandra Heller 85’), Alyssa Mautz (Lindsey Schwartz 67’), Lauren Fowlkes (Shayla Mutz 60’), Michele Weissenhofer (Vanessa DiBernardo 45’)
FC Indiana: Geralda Saintilus, Kencia Merseille, Fiorda Cajuste, Carmela Aristilde, Nadia Valentin, Jordan Clark, Lovely Placide, Wisline Dolce, Sophia Batard, M. Pierre Louis, Felicia Libertin
Subs Used: Shenel Gall, Darlene Beauiquot, Yolande Merone, K. Woodlyne Robuste, Abby Skoda, M. Soline Belleveu
The Red Stars return home next weekend when they will take on former WPS side Boston Breakers on Sunday, June 3, at North Central College in Naperville, Ill. They will follow this with matches on Friday, June 8, against New York Fury and on Sunday, June 10, against ASA Chesapeake Charge.
FC Indiana will host Boston on Friday, June 1, at IUPUI Stadium, followed by home games on June 8 against Chesapeake and June 10 against New York.
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