April 18, 2010

Athletica and Red Stars Draw; Gold Pride Knocks Off Sky Blue

Athletica defender Elaine challenges Red Star midfielder Julianne Sitch in 1st half action in the 1-1 tie. Elaine came off with an injury shortly afterwards, while Sitch played 65 minutes before being subbed out.
Saint Louis Athletica and the Chicago Red Stars played to a 1-1 draw in Chicago. Lori Chalupny scored in just the 3rd minute of the game on a rebound. Casey Nogueira, a halftime substitution scored her first WPS goal in the 59th minute.

The lineup for Saint Louis was Solo, Elaine, Fletcher, Ellertson, Weber, Chalupny, Boxx, Blank, Miyama, DiMartino, and Aluko for Saint Louis. Chicago's lineup was Loyden, Engen, Markgraf, Dieke, Dalmy, Sitch, Klein, Chapman, Asllani, Cristiane, and Masar.

It didn't take long for Saint Louis to open the scoring. Eni Aluko and Aya Miyama worked the ball from the left sideline, and finally found Tina DiMartino alone at the 18. She struck a shot that Jill Loyden made a diving save on, but Lori Chalupny was waiting for the rebound and she deposited the ball safely into the lower right corner of the net to put Athletica on top 1-0 before the match was 3 minutes old.

Once again, Coach Jorge Barcellos was forced to use one of his substitutions in the 1st half for an injured player. Elaine went down twice, the first time she caught a shot in the midsection and was down for a couple minutes. Before the 30th minute, she went down again and was subbed out in favor of Niki Cross.

Saint Louis continued to play well for most of the 1st half, but several promising chances did not end in more scoring. Late in the half, the Red Stars started to assert themselves more and they created some nice chances. A Julianne Sitch cross just missed connecting with Kosovare Asllani in the 34th minute, followed shortly by an Ella Masar chance from a bad angle, and a Marian Dalmy shot that sailed wide. Chicago's best chance came as the half was coming to a close. A Cristiane shot from just inside the box had a diving Hope Solo beat, but the ball ricocheted off the inside of the post and bounced across the goal mouth where it was cleared by an Athletica defender under heavy pressure. The half ended 1-0 for Saint Louis.

Chicago's momentum continued into the 2nd half. Emma Hayes used her 1st substitution at the break, bringing in Casey Nogueira for Masar. The Red Stars were able to create a number chances in the opening minutes of the half, with Cristiane and Asllani both forcing saves by Solo. In the 58th minute, a ball appeared to be over Solo's head and headed for the goal, but she was able to reach back and deflect it clear.

The pressure finally paid off for Chicago in the 60th minute as a Katie Chapman cross came to Nogueira at the left side of the box. She settled the ball with one touch and then buried the shot in the upper right to tie the match at 1-1. For Nogueira, it was her first WPS goal.

The last 4 substitutions of the game saw entry of players who were seeing their first action for various reasons. Madelaine Edlund and Lindsay Tarpley came in for Saint Louis, while Karen Carney and Formiga subbed in for Chicago.

Saint Louis regained some momentum toward the closing minutes of the half. A Carolyn Blank shot was deflected just wide of the goal, while a Lindsay Tarpley-Shannon Boxx give and go just failed to connect. For Chicago, Asllani appeared to be through in the 88th, but her shot sailed well over the bar.

However, Chicago appeared to have the game won in the 90th minute, when Nogueira once again found herself alone from about 12 yards with nothing but Solo and the goal in front of her. Unfortunately, she got under the ball and her shot found the 20th row of the stands behind the Athletica net. Saint Louis was surely fortunate to have held on to the tie.

Chicago held the edge in shots, 14-10, and shots on goal by a 7-3 margin, while Athletica had a healthy advantage in corners 9-4. Saint Louis temporarily holds 1st place with 4 points, while Chicago earned their first point of the season.

FC Gold Pride 3, Sky Blue 1

FC Gold Pride won their home opener in fine fashion by a 3-1 score over defending champs Sky Blue FC. Christine Sinclair scored a goal in each half and Marta got an insurance goal late in the match to seal the victory.

After a 1-0 halftime lead on Sinclair's goal, Laura Kalmari equalized in the 51st minute. For Kalmari, it was her first WPS goal. However Gold Pride was able to score twice in the final 15 minutes of the match to take the victory. Kelley O'Hara earned assists on both of the last two goals.

Gold Pride outshot Sky Blue by an 18-6 margin for the match, that saw SBFC's back line severely shorthanded, without Anita Asante, Christie Rampone, and Meghan Schnur. Both teams now have a 1-1 record and 3 points for the season.