It was a slow start but a dramatic finish at Yurcak Field Wednesday night when the visiting Chicago Red Stars tied Sky Blue FC in a 1-1 draw.
For the third game in a row Sophie Schmidt found the back of the net, this time off a header in the 88th minute that looked to be the game winner, but former Sky Blue FC forward Alyssa Mautz answered with a late goal of her own four minutes into stoppage time to save the Red Stars.
“Our work-rate and commitment to compete as a group was excellent,” said Red Stars Head Coach Rory Dames. “The fact that we went down in the 88th minute and responded to go and get the tying goal shows the kind of perseverance this group has.”
Both teams struggled with field conditions in the first half, as pregame rain delayed kickoff five minutes and created a slippery surface making it hard for players to find their footing. Shots sailed high and wide early as teams exchanged attacking chances and short stretches of possession on the slick field. Combined, the two teams only managed twi shots on frame and committed 12 fouls throughout first half.
The best chance of the half came in the 44th minute for Ella Maser. The Red Star’s forward collected the ball at midfield and ran down the empty real estate in front of her until she was tracked down just outside the 18. She rifled a shot that floated just over the crossbar and closed the half leaving it at 0-0.
Both teams settled into the second half but scoring opportunities did not start appearing till late into the game. The Red Stars were first on attack in the 64th minute when Lori Chalupny went 1v1 with Sky Blue keeper Brittney Cameron. Cameron denied her though making the one handed dive to keep Chicago off the board.
Kelley O’Hara was subbed into the game the second half and made her presence felt in the 81st minute. She took a through ball up the middle and met Chicago keeper McLeod inside the 18 but her shot went wide of frame.
Minutes later Sky Blue defender Caitlin Foord dribbled down the right flank and through three Red Stars defenders before taking a shot that beat McLeod but hit the crossbar.
Sky Blue’s late push paid off with a goal by Schmidt. Christie Rampone took a free kick that was originally punched out by McLoed. The rebound fell to Kendall Johnson whose cross back into the box found Schmidt.
Six minutes later Mautz stole Sky Blue’s win when a Red Star’s cross bounced inside the 18 before Mautz chipped the ball over Cameron and into the net for the match tying goal.
Chicago returns home for a three game home stint starting Sunday against the Portland Thorns FC. Sky Blue FC will welcome the Seattle Reign FC to Yurcak Field Saturday night.