In spite of a strong first-half performance, the Chicago Red Stars found themselves having to play from behind last night after a penalty kick was awarded to the Chesapeake Charge and scored by Jessica Hnatiuk in the 23rd minute. The Red Stars would come out blazing to start the 2nd half, scoring twice in a 3 minute span with goals by Michele Weissenhofer and Lori Chalupny. After a 40 minute game pause for a lightning delay, the Red Stars would come out and find one more goal, again by Weissenhofer, to finish the night with a 3-1 victory.
Early in the match, the Red Stars were controlling much of the possession and had solid chances on goal, but Chesapeake goalkeeper Lyndse Hokanson was able to easily scoop up any on-target shots. Chesapeake would earn the first corner of the match in the 15th minute, followed by a Brittany Hadaway blasted shot from the 20 yard mark that drifted just above the Red Stars’ crossbar. But it was the 23rd minute when the Charge sent a long ball over the top of the Red Stars’ defense that would send them chasing. Red Stars’ defender Lauren Alkek hustled to catch up with the play but was called for a challenge on Chesapeake that gave them a PK opportunity, which Hnatiuk was able to put away.
“Chesapeake played a good first half and they were smart and organized,” said Red Stars’ Assistant Coach John DeJulio. “Our team had chances but didn’t convert. We came out a little slower than usual and it took us until the second half to get going.”
“We reorganized in the locker room at halftime and talked about what it will take to come back in a game like this on the road. Credit to the players because they came out did what they needed to do.”
With rain continuing to fall and a storm threatening the match, the Red Stars came out fired up in the second-half. Red Stars’ forward Michele Weissenhofer muscled her way through the defense and fired off an early statement less than a minute into play to level off the score at 1-all in the 46th. Lori Chalupny was credited with the assist, and just 2 minutes later Weissenhofer would return the favor, providing an assist for a close-range Chalupny goal.
The Red Stars continued to press on Chesapeake and were rewarded with several shot opportunities on goal, but the head referee had no choice but to pause the match in the 57th minute, when lightning began to surround the field. The teams would be quarantined in their locker rooms for the greater part of 40 minutes before being able to head back out into the rainfall and complete the final 33 minutes of play. The Red Stars would find the back of the net one last time in the 77th minute when Alkek earned redemption by pushing the length of the field and getting off a perfect low cross to the foot of Weissenhofer, who had no trouble deflecting it into the net for her 2nd tally of the night, closing the match at 3-1.
“It was good for us to have to face some adversity and we rose to it and played together as a team and never stopped believing,” said team captain Lori Chalupny. “We were able to come out in the second half and get a lot of high pressure on them. The lightning break came at a bad time for us, as we had gotten those 2 early goals and were playing well as a team, but we remained focused and did what we needed to do.”
The Red Stars remain in first place in the WPSL Elite league with a 7-1-0 record. The team remains on the road for their first matchup of the season with Philly Fever on Sunday night in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, with a 7:30pm ET kickoff.
The final two home games of the season are on July 7th at 6pm in Evanston vs Philly Fever and July 14th at 7pm in Lisle vs WNY Flash. Individual tickets on sale now at www.chicagoredstars.com: $15 Preferred and $10 General Admission. Discounted group tickets available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chesapeake: Jessica Hnatiuk 23’ (PK)
Chicago: Michele Weissenhofer 46’ (Assisted by Lori Chalupny), Lori Chalupny 48’ (Assist by Michele Weissenhofer), Michele Weissenhofer 77’ (Assisted by Lauren Alkek)
Chicago: Jamie Forbes GK, Lauren Alkek, Sammy Scofield, Alexandra Heller, Michelle Wenino, Julianne Sitch, Jen Buczkowski, Lori Chalupny, Alyssa Mautz, Lauren Fowlkes, Michele Weissenhofer (Shayla Mutz 83’)
Chesapeake: Lyndse Hokanson GK, Alex Brandt, Shannon Collins, Caylin Dudley, Brittany Hadaway, Jessica Hnatiuk, Amanda Lebo, Sofia Read, Cheyenne Skidmore, Ashley Spivey, Erica Suter
Subs: Kaitlin Brooks, Megan Gibbons, Emily Griffith, Marisa Kresge, Alexandra Niedoba, Nia Walcott
The WPSL Elite League is new in 2012. The 8-team league is ASA Chesapeake Charge, Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, FC Indiana, New England Mutiny, New York Fury, Philadelphia Fever, and WNY Flash.