Lightning strikes out Red Stars match
1st-place clash with Washington to be replayed at later date
By Gunnar Berndt, Chicago Red Stars Director of Communications
LISLE -- With first place on the line, the National Women's Soccer League-leading Red Stars saw their highly anticipated match with the second place Washington Spirit get washed away due to inclement weather Saturday.
It was a fitting end to a bizarre night that saw the match halted for more than three-and-a-half hours due to lightning in the area. The game was called off following a controversial offside call on a goal by Chicago’s Sofia Huerta and a subsequent go-ahead tally by Washington’s Megan Oyster.
After some good, early pressure by the Red Stars, their opponents managed to get a better grip on the game and nearly took the lead at the quarter-hour mark. Chicago midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo’s mishit pass back toward the defense inadvertently sprung the Spirit’s Amanda Da Costa on the right side of the area. The attacker picked out Crystal Dunn in the center, only for the striker’s first-time shot to whistle just wide of the left post.
It would be the final noteworthy chance before the match was delayed at 7:24 p.m. Three hours and 24 minutes later, the teams resumed play and treated the few brave fans who stuck around to quality soccer until the action was called at 11:50 p.m. The match was cancelled thereafter and will be replayed for a full 90 minutes at a later date.
It might have been just as well for the Red Stars, who fell behind moments after they appeared to take a 1-0 lead. Huerta's goal after a scramble in the box was wiped away by an offside call that replays later revealed to be highly questionable.
That was followed by a goal from Washington's Oyster, whose first-time finish on a corner kick from the right gave the Spirit the lead in the 38th minute. The score from the Neuqua Valley graduate and Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association's 2011 Player of the Year was short-lived. The game was suspended mere moments later and all the stats nixed.
Illinois high school soccer was well represented in the game, the Red Stars DiBernardo was the IHSSCA Player of the Year in 2010 when she played for Waubonsie Valley.
The Red Stars travel to take on Sky Blue FC on June 28, followed by two more road fixtures against the Houston Dash and Boston Breakers. The club then returns home for a meeting with Boston on July 18.