By Abigail Gerken @abigailgerken22
The NWSL Challenge Cup Final is set! Houston Dash will take on Chicago Red Stars at Rio Tinto Stadium on Sunday, June 26th. Let’s see how the semifinals played out.
Houston vs. Portland
Although Portland dominated possession (62%), they could not capitalize on any of their opportunities. While Thorns goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom shined again in her second tournament appearance, all Houston needed was one opportunity and they took it.
The lone goal of the game came from Houston captain Rachel Daly in the 69’. Kristie Mewis fired in a corner kick, which Sophie Schmidt redirected towards goal, where it hit the crossbar and fell to Daly, who quickly put it away.
The winning goal could not have come from anyone better than Daly, a player who has been with the Dash since she entered the NWSL in 2016 via the college draft. Now, as captain, she led Houston to their first-ever NWSL final.
Chicago Red Stars vs. Sky Blue FC
- Casey Short was out of this match, after sustaining an injury during Tuesday’s practice.
Chicago’s start to the match was nothing short of a dream. From the outset, their offense was dominant and showcased the skill of their players. In the 8th minute, Bianca St. Georges scored her first NWSL goal. After getting the ball at her feet on the right side of the 18, she slickly cut the ball back onto her left foot and slotted it into the far post.
Chicago kept their foot on the gas and in the 11th minute, forward Rachel Hill got herself a goal, doubling Chicago’s lead. The Red Stars kept this energy up for the entirety of the match and Savannah McCaskill also found the back of the net, her second Red Stars goal.
After a ball bounced in the Red Stars’ box, Woldmoe capitalized and headed the shot toward goal, where Viens redirected it past Alyssa Naeher. This was Evelyn Viens’s first NWSL goal.
Minutes later, star defender Julie Ertz scored an own goal. It occurred off a cross by Midge Purce that had so much power, it accidentally deflected off Ertz. The last 15 minutes of this match had Chicago on their heels, hanging on to the win, while Sky Blue’s offense flourished. Chicago did hang on to the victory and will face Houston on Sunday, July 26th.
Featured image: Houston Dash
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